NBCUniversal makes cuts, including at NBC Sports Chicago

NBC 5, Telemundo also announce layoffs

At a time when the Covid pandemic has hammered advertising revenues, it isn’t surprising media companies are making cuts. And it hit home today with Comcast’s NBCUniversal division announcing layoffs with NBC Sports’ regional sports networks taking the hardest hits. 

NBC Sports Chicago laid off several personnel Tuesday on-air and off as Leah Rahimi and Laurence Holmes were let go, according to the Chicago Tribune. Rahimi hosted Baseball Night In Chicago while Holmes – who is an afternoon personality at Entercom-owned WSCR-AM, did part-time work hosting Chicago Bears post-game The Football Aftershow

Also gone is Sports Talk Live with David Kaplan, although he remains with the network. 

Cuts were also reported at NBC Sports Washington (D.C.), NBC Sports Bay Area, and twenty people were let go from NBC Sports Boston. Also eliminated were several sports-related websites in the NBC Sports portfolio, including those related to baseball, college basketball, hockey, and motor sports. 

Meanwhile, there were layoffs at NBC 5 (WMAQ) and Telemundo Chicago (WSNS), mostly in technical positions, according to Robert Feder

“Due to the ongoing economic challenges caused by the pandemic and with the need to better position NBCUniversal for the future, we have made a number of difficult decisions to achieve cost savings, including eliminating some roles across the portfolio,” NBCUniversal said in a statement.

But there is evidence NBCUniversal may be shifting more resources away from traditional media in order to to chase streaming money, as this CNBC report (an NBCUniversal property) attests. NBCUniversal recently launched Peacock, a new streaming service to showcase much of the company’s content. The media conglomerate recently used NBC to air an hour-long 30 Rock reunion special in guise of an infomercial, which numerous NBC affiliates angrily rejected. Tuesday’s layoffs hit linear TV outlets, who are losing viewers to streaming services in record numbers. 

As for NBC Sports’ regional networks, the cancellation of sporting events due to the pandemic was a huge blow to them and its peers, including AT&T’s SportsNets and Sinclair-owned Fox Sports channels, resulting in millions in lost revenue. Had the Commissioner of Major League Baseball pulled the plug on the current baseball season due to coronavirus outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, millions more would’ve been lost. 

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