USA, Syfy Lay Off Employees in Reorganization

NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s Entertainment Networks group has laid off 25 employees, part of the reorganization that was initiated in February and saw USA and Syfy align operations under executive Chris McCumber.

The layoff affects fewer than 10% of employees at USA and Syfy.

As part of the continued restructuring, McCumber announced Wednesday in a memo to staff that the division’s programming, scheduling and acquisitions departments would be combined, with a co-productions group spinning off from that newly formed department.

McCumber, formerly USA president, gained oversight of Syfy as part of a shift that saw Syfy content chief Bill McGoldrick move to a content-focused position spanning all 10 of NBCUniversal’s cable entertainment channels and president Dave Howe transition to a strategy position.

Speaking to Variety in February, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chair Bonnie Hammer said of the new structure, “This is not something where I woke up two weeks ago and said, ‘Oh my goodness, we have to do something. We have been trying to figure out a structure that makes sense when you look at what is happening in cable at large, and how content is developed, sold and monetized domestically and globally. Now’s the time to do this.”

Read the memo from McCumber to staff below:

Team:

As we all know, this is a time of major change in our industry. In order to continue to thrive in this current environment, we need to take every opportunity to look at our business in a completely fresh way. It’s why, this February, we formed the new Entertainment Networks group, combining the strengths of USA Network and Syfy – two of the largest and most successful cable networks in the business – along with distinctive brands Chiller and Cloo.

Since taking on my new role, I’ve given careful and thoughtful consideration to our group with one main goal in mind:  to design an organizational structure that operates more creatively and effectively, positioning us all for future success.

To that end, today I am announcing some changes that will maximize the potential of our strong brands, and harness our collective strengths to form one cohesive, collaborative, best-in-class team.

Senior executives across the entire Entertainment Networks group will now take on responsibility for both USA and Syfy, allowing us to streamline our structure and provide the flexibility to deploy our talent when and where they are most needed. And while many of you will have the exciting opportunity to work on multiple networks, some functions will remain dedicated to specific network brands where necessary.

My direct reports, including Alexandra Shapiro, EVP, Marketing and Digital; Rob Spodek, CFO; Katherine Nelson, SVP, Communications; and David Giles, SVP, Research will continue to provide strategic leadership across the group, alongside the leaders of two newly-formed departments: Content Strategy and Original Co-Productions.

Content Strategy, which will be made up of the combined programming, scheduling and acquisitions teams, will be focused on the strategic use of all available platforms to deliver our networks’ content. I will be announcing new leadership for this important group in the near future.

The Original Co-Productions team, previously part of scheduling and acquisitions, will now become its own department under the leadership of Chris Regina, SVP, Original Co-Productions. Chris has had incredible success at Syfy with co-productions such as the Sharknado franchise and Z Nation. He will report to me and work closely with Bill McGoldrick in original content.

Change is never easy, but it’s essential to meet not only the challenges of today, but those of the future. Fortunately, we are making these changes from a position of strength. 2015 marked USA’s 10th consecutive year as the #1 cable entertainment network, and Syfy is in the midst of a creative evolution that’s being widely embraced by critics and viewers alike.

Please stay tuned in the very near future for an invitation to a town hall, and thanks to each and every one of you for your continued support.

– Chris

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