Bell Media’s new president has reshaped the upper ranks of the division, which has been hit hard as advertisers have pulled back spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wade Oosterman announced the changes – which include the departures of several Bell Media executives – in a memo on Tuesday as he took over the job from Randy Lennox. Mr. Lennox, a prominent entertainment industry executive and former head of Universal Music Canada, departed on Monday.
“To continue to lead in a transforming industry, our operational structure needs to make doing business with us easier while also enabling necessary investment in the exciting new content and technology innovation opportunities ahead,” wrote Mr. Oosterman, who is also vice-chair of BCE Inc.
Mike Cosentino, president of content and programming, and Tracey Pearce, president of distribution and pay, are leaving the company, according to the memo, which was obtained by The Globe and Mail.
Other departures, outlined in separate memos, include Corrie Coe, senior vice-president of original programming; Nanci MacLean, vice-president of Bell Media Studios; Mark Finney, vice-president of strategic sales; and Paul Solymos, vice-president of content sales and distribution. Kevin Goldstein, vice-president of regulatory affairs, has also been let go, The Globe has confirmed.
A Bell spokesperson said the company has streamlined its structure to allow it to invest in content and technology that will allow it to “stay out in front” in the increasingly competitive media industry.
“The changes mean promotions and expanded roles for many leaders as well as some departures,” Marc Choma said in an e-mail.
Bell Media has seen its revenues drop as economic uncertainty stemming from the global health crisis, which has shut down large swaths of the economy, caused advertisers to cut their spending. The unit reported $628-million in operating revenues during the third quarter, down 16.4 per cent, or $123-million, from the same period last year.
Kaan Yigit, president of Toronto-based consumer research consultancy Solutions Research Group, said the combination of lower advertising revenues, an ever-increasing number of online streaming options and the growing horde of cord-cutters have created a “perfect storm.”
“I would not be surprised if this is one of more right-sizing moves in the sector this year,” Mr. Yigit said in an e-mail. “The global streaming and social-media players – Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter et al – are very lean and have small headcounts in Canada relative to their share of revenue or eyeballs, so it’s not realistic to assume that our domestic players can compete with them going forward without getting lean or making other significant changes themselves.”
Rogers Communications Inc. has also laid off employees at its sports and media subsidiary in recent months, although the division is also hiring to fill new positions.
“A small percentage of Rogers Sports & Media team members left the company in November,” Rogers spokesperson Andrea Goldstein said in an e-mail.
“As we modernize and evolve our business to combat the seismic shift in the industry, we are now aggressively hiring in a variety of ‘hot skills’ areas, including sports gaming, data science and analytics, advanced advertising, digital partnerships and performance marketing,” Ms. Goldstein added.
Bell has also promoted a number of leaders into new positions, including Karine Moses, who becomes senior vice-president of content development and news in addition to continuing her role as Bell Canada’s vice-chair for Quebec. Nauby Jacob becomes senior vice-president of product platforms while Stewart Johnston will take on the role of senior vice-president of sales and sports.
Bell Media owns the CTV network, Crave and a number of specialty channels, including The Sports Network, or TSN. It recently acquired French-language network V, which it has rebranded as Noovo.
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