Viacom Cuts 264 Employees in NYC to Help Save $250M

Cable TV Giant Began Corporate Restructuring in February

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Sometimes having a young audience can be too much of a good thing.

Layoffs at Viacom Inc., caught in a downturn as its youthful audiences have flocked to new, online rivals, will cut 264 employees in New York City, according to a state Department of Labor notice.

The cable TV giant began a corporate restructuring in February that has resulted in layoffs in New York and Los Angeles, and the departures of some high-profile names, including Van Toffler, the longtime MTV programming executive, and Larry Jones, head of TV Land. The Department of Labor notice marks the first time Viacom has specified the number of jobs it intends to cut.

Viacom is reportedly laying off nearly 10% of its overall head count, reported to be around 10,000. Companywide totals are expected to be much higher than 260 if cuts in Los Angeles are included.

Like other cable TV companies, Viacom, controlled by Sumner Redstone, has been hurt by competition from digital video -- only more so. The company, whose MTV channel once stood for youth culture and which used to rule children's programming with Nickelodeon, has seen its hold on those markets weaken as viewers have flocked to YouTube, Amazon, Facebook and Vice Media.

Viacom has the added problem of so many of its viewers' watching videos on phones, tablets or computers. where they can't be tracked by Nielsen. Though Nielsen has been rolling out tools for tracking those viewers, not all of the information is included in the ratings.

Viacom expects to save $250 million with a restructuring that will consolidate three divisions into two. The move would include combining Comedy Central and Spike with MTV and VH1.

-- Matthew Flamm is a reporter with Crain's New York, Ad Age's sibling publication. --

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CORRECTION: Nielsen measures viewing across different platforms and on mobile devices, but not all of that information is included in the ratings. That information was misstated in a previous version of this article.

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