Comcast’s Sky to Lay Off Nearly 1,000 Workers as Pay TV Unit Pivots to Streaming

Comcast Sky

(Image credit: Sky)

Comcast’s U.K. pay TV company Sky is planning to cut about 1,000 jobs in Britain this year, as the media group moves away from linear cable and satellite TV towards streaming-based services.

“The launch of Sky Glass and Sky Stream represents a shift in our business to deliver TV over IP [an internet connection] rather than satellite. Increasingly, customers are choosing Sky Glass and Sky Stream which don’t require specialist installation, and that has led us to change the number of roles we need to deliver our services,” reads a Comcast release sent to various Penske showbiz trades.

The news was first reported by the Financial Times.

In the coming weeks, management for the European pay TV provider is set to talk to staffers who could be affected by the job cuts. With about 27,000 employees, job losses are expected to affect 4% of Sky’s staff.

The majority of the cuts will come from Sky’s engineering division, including technicians who make home visits to install satellite dishes and conduct repairs.

Since Comcast acquired the media group in 2018 for $40 billion (a reported 15 times Sky’s EBITDA value), the U.S. cable giant has reoriented the direction of the British pay TV unit toward IP distribution of video. One example: The release of Sky Glass Smart TV in 2021 and the accompanying Sky Stream service.

Sky Glass is unique among smart devices in that customers can lease the set on a four-year contract, making monthly payments on installment plans, similar to how wireless company’s allow their customers to finances smart phones.

According to the company, consumers increasingly prefer this “cordless” option.

In fact, more than three-quarters of Sky customers sign up for streaming services rather than opting for a traditional satellite dish.

Sky is making important choices about its distribution technology preferences following its decision in early December to enter an $8.5 billion, multiyear TV rights deal with the Premier League.

Sky isn’t the only British TV company undergoing serious restructuring, as industry pressures force more legacy media organizations to adapt to shifting consumer habits that increasingly favor the ease of streaming.

Just this week, the U.K.’s Channel 4 confirmed its largest staff cuts in 15 years, with more than 200 roles being trimmed, or almost 15% of staff, while the company makes the shift to streaming.