Months before the Warner Bros. Discovery deal was completed, execs at the now-merged company promised to find $3 billion in synergy savings over the next three years. In a new memo sent out to Warner Bros. Discovery staff and obtained by Variety, Zaslav began to elaborate on those plans.
In a list of “near-term priorities,” Zaslav mentioned that the company would “focus on financial opporunities.” As we build this new company, we need to be guided by data and insights to understand what’s working and what’s not,” the memo reads. “It’s also important that we work more collaboratively across businesses so that we’re able to be strategic in our decision-making and best serve consumers across all platforms. This will enable us to achieve a more efficient and impactful organization and a stronger business overall.”
To accomplish that goal, WBD has “hand-selected a broad group of [staff’s] peers who are leading and contributing to a range of workstreams underway.” Chief transformation officer Simon Robinson leads this team.
WBD has already made major cost-cutting decisions in the month since the merger completed. Case in point: the shutdown of CNN+, which Variety exclusively reported on April 21, two weeks post-merger. Zaslav’s words indicate more big changes to come.
The memo also outlines plans for Upfronts, combining HBO Max and Discovery+, bolstering CNN, “establish[ing] a new WBD culture” and “invest[ing] in creative engines.”
View the memo in full below:
We’ve officially passed the 30-day mark as Warner Bros. Discovery, and let me just say what a thrill the month has been for me and the other members of our leadership team…. visiting our different locations in the U.S., meeting many of you, and learning as much as possible about our businesses, as we chart the future path of this great new company. While there’s a lot of work and some difficult decisions still ahead, I am pleased with the overall progress to date, and am more confident than ever that we are on the right path to building the most dynamic media and entertainment company in the world.
Here are the near-term priorities that we will be focused on:
• Invest in our creative engines. Our goal is to reach an even bigger global audience with the broadest and most compelling offering of content across all platforms. To accomplish this, we will invest boldly, but also smartly in what we put on screens, big and small, and always with the intent to drive our business forward.
• Establish a new WBD Culture. We must all work together to build a single cohesive, collaborative culture and start operating as one team. We cannot make decisions and operate in silos and hope to be effective given the sheer magnitude of content and platforms we must maximize to best serve consumers.
• Outperform at the US Ad Sales Upfront. On Wednesday, we’ll host our first-ever Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront in NYC, and the work by our two legacy teams executed to get us here is nothing short of spectacular. We’ll have every advantage going into negotiations and we’re excited to celebrate the results.
• Work toward one streaming platform. There is massive opportunity in eventually combining our streaming services, discovery+ and HBO Max, into one powerful and global tech platform. While it will take time, it will ultimately be a game-changer as no one else has a content offering as vast, comprehensive and exciting as ours will be.
• Reinforce CNN’s critical role in the world. There is no news organization in the world like CNN. Under Chris Licht’s great leadership, our teams around the globe are doing what they do best, which is to be a source of reliable news and exceptional journalism. We are especially proud of our brave crews on the ground in Ukraine, fighting to tell the truth under difficult and dangerous conditions. What they do is so • incredibly important, and no one does it better.
• Focus on financial opportunities. As we build this new company, we need to be guided by data and insights to understand what’s working and what’s not. It’s also important that we work more collaboratively across businesses so that we’re able to be strategic in our decision-making and best serve consumers across all platforms. This will enable us to achieve a more efficient and impactful organization and a stronger business overall. To support our pursuit of these ambitions, we have hand-selected a broad group of your peers who are leading and contributing to a range of workstreams underway. This group is being led by Simon Robinson, our Chief Transformation Officer. Simon is a proven leader and a fantastic colleague and we are very lucky to have him shepherding the process. Look out for regular updates from him on the team’s progress.
While we do not yet have all the answers, here’s what I know for sure: we are a global leader in lifestyle, news and sports; we are the largest maker of TV and motion picture content in the world; we have an unmatched portfolio of iconic brands and franchises, ranging from HBO and Warner Bros. Pictures to Discovery Channel and CNN, March Madness and the Stanley Cup playoffs to DC Comics and Looney Tunes; and we stand apart in our ability to reach consumers across all platforms – linear, cable, digital, theatrical and streaming. Most importantly, we have the best people and creative partners in the industry.
Simply put: I believe we have a winning hand. And while there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with change, I am certain that through these efforts and with your continued focus and collaboration we will emerge a stronger, more capable and more unified organization.
Thanks for all that you’re doing and keep up the great work!