Big Layoffs at NBC

The Washington Post had an article yesterday discussing the seismic shifts at 30 Rock:

NBC Universal announced sweeping cuts to its television operations yesterday, demonstrating just how far a once-unrivaled network must now go to stay competitive with YouTube, social networks, video games and other upstart media.

The media giant said it will shed up to 700 jobs — 5 percent of its workforce — and slash $750 million from its budget by the end of 2008. The changes will be felt from Secaucus, N.J., where MSNBC will shutter its headquarters, to television sets around the country, which will soon begin tuning to game shows and reality programming in the 8 p.m. time slot. NBC said it plans to phase out costly scripted dramas and comedies during the first hour of prime time.

Network television, for half a century the unquestioned leader in media profitability and viewership, is wrestling with the same challenge facing newspapers, news magazines, radio and other traditional media properties: how to manage costs while converting to digital delivery in an increasingly splintered media landscape. Although the promise of revenue in the new era is great, actual revenues from Internet and mobile media services still are not.

Viewers have noticed that things in TV land have been changing bit by bit in recent years, now that they can get their favorite shows on their PCs, cellphones and iPods. Yesterday’s announcement by NBC Universal, however, is an indisputable signal that — at least for one network — the television-as-family-hearth era is dying.

NBC News President Steve Capus starkly illustrated the new landscape, which must include all forms of delivery that consumers demand: “We’ve been a TV business that dabbles in digital. Now, we’re positioning as a news content-production center going forward that happens to do television.”

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting take on the NY Times’ version of the story, too.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 13. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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