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Disney to Cut 7,000 Jobs as Streaming Numbers Fall for First Time

The layoffs are part of a plan to save $5.5bn and make its Disney+ streaming service profitable.

Disney chief executive Bob Iger says he is cutting 7,000 jobs in a major shake-up of the entertainment giant.

The layoffs are part of a plan to save $5.5bn and make its Disney+ streaming service profitable, which reported its first fall in subscribers since it launched the service in 2019.

Mr Iger said he did “not make this decision lightly”.

He announced the restructure as part of company results – his first since he returned to Disney in November.

Commenting on the job cuts, Mr Iger said: “I have enormous respect and appreciation for the talent and dedication of our employees worldwide, and I’m mindful of the personal impact of these changes.”

He said the changes would “better position us to weather future disruption and global economic challenges”.

The job cuts amount to around 3.6% of Disney’s workforce around the world.

Meanwhile, Disney reported an 8% rise in sales to $23.5bn (£19.4bn) between October and December last year. Profit also rose, up by 11% to $1.3bn.

However, Disney+ reported a $1.5bn loss and its subscribers fell by around 2.4m to 161.8m.

The plan will see the company restructure into three segments – entertainment which will include film, TV and streaming; sports-focused ESPN and Disney parks, experiences and products.

“This reorganisation will result in a more cost-effective, coordinated approach to our operations,” Mr Iger told analysts on a conference call.

The company’s streaming service remained its top priority, he added.

Disney share price rose by more than 5% in extended trade after the announcement.

Freddy Colquhoun, investment director at JM Finn, told the BBC: “Disney has been in quite a bit of trouble over the last year or so and in particular with trying to make its streaming business profitable.”

But he said the results “were actually really reassuring” and beat expectations.

Disney’s changes address some of the criticisms raised in recent months by billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who criticised the company for overspending on its streaming business.

In response to the announcement Mr Peltz’s Trian Group said: “We are pleased that Disney is listening.”

Mr Iger made a shock return as Disney’s chief executive, less than a year after he retired from the firm.

He was brought back to steer the company through turbulent times after its share price plummeted and Disney+ continued to make a loss.

Mr Iger, who had previously headed Disney for 15 years, replaced Bob Chapek, who took over as chief executive in February 2020.

Mr Chapek was ousted after Disney’s streaming business posted a $1.5bn quarterly loss.

Less than 24 hours after his return to Disney, Mr Iger said he was planning a major shake-up of the business.

At the time he said he had tasked a group of executives with designing “a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalises costs”.