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Streaming and AI killed the TV star: Will Paramount last?

Kaicie Boeglin

News Editor

Paramount followed through with hundreds of layoffs during transition away from traditional television. Roughly 800 employees are out of a job due to Paramount placing more emphasis on a future in streaming predominantly written with AI generation. The company owns networks such as Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, CBS, Miramax and BET, among all their subsidiaries. 

Image from ViacomCBS Inc.

These layoffs come after the SAG-AFTRA strike which began in July of 2023 and lasted until November. The SAG-AFTRA strike is the longest strike against the film and TV industry in American history, lasting 118 days. The deal resulted in the first-ever protections for actors against artificial intelligence, however, actors would also receive "streaming participation bonus[es]" and salary increases higher than writers.

In regards to the layoffs Bob Bakish, Paramount’s chief executive, is quoted by the Times saying, “These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead — and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about.” Is the excitement he references in conjunction with utilizing AI generation to cut the cost of physical writers?

Paramount may be well known but is struggling to make profits as Netflix, Prime Video and other streaming services take over households. Streaming denounces traditional TV and classic theater outings. Despite creating Paramount+, the company has still yet to turn profit. The company lost more than $1 billion in 2023 in their streaming division, which also supports the ad-supported service Pluto TV. Employees at CBS News, BET, Nickelodeon, along with the entire team that worked on Noggin have been fired as a result of the company’s cost-cutting.

Budgets at Paramount have decreased every year CEO Bakish has been in control according to a post on X by Ben Daves, a former script/production coordinator for Netflix Animation and a screenwriter for Paramount Animation. Daves writes in his post, “I started working for Paramount around when Bob started. Every single year, there were massive layoffs. The stock was around $50 when he started. It’s now at $13. He is the problem. Worst CEO I’ve ever seen.” Daves is not the only Paramount employee to believe CEO Bakish is the reason for the company’s decline.

Paramount's company controlling shareholder Shari Redstone has the last family tie to the production studio. As of late Redstone has expressed interest in selling their shares which would then set back the decades of family ownership. Has the family vision to provide top quality entertainment left the stage? Redstone’s willingness to sell her share shows an active decline in the faith of the television and film industry. Skydance Media, a past cohort of Paramount, has shown interest in buying the Redstone share but no deal has been made.


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