ET Online, ET Live Merge Staff, Resulting in Layoffs (EXCLUSIVE)

Elaine Low

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UPDATED: On-air ET Live hosts Tanner Thomason and Jason Carter have been let go as part of the greater layoffs, according to a source, while host Melicia Johnson has accepted a new role within ET digital.

Entertainment website ET Online and live-streaming network ET Live, the digital extensions of CBS’ daily newsmagazine “Entertainment Tonight,” are combining teams, resulting in layoffs of at least a dozen staffers as of midday Tuesday, Variety has learned exclusively.

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“We have integrated the ET Online and ET Live teams to create one content group that will support and drive the ET brand across all digital platforms,” according to a CBS Television Distribution Digital spokesperson. “As a result, some positions were reduced.”

The headcount reduction is only set to impact ET’s digital teams and not the broadcast program staff.

CBS Television Distribution Digital senior vice president and general manager David Katz made the announcement to the teams Tuesday morning, sources tell Variety. The total number of layoffs remains unclear, as staff are currently still in the process of being informed of the changes.

CBS had launched ET Live, a free round-the-clock direct-to-consumer streaming network in October 2018, aiming to expand the “Entertainment Tonight” brand — now in its 39th season — beyond the on-air broadcast with its original programming dedicated to entertainment news and pop culture coverage.

ET Live was designed to be complementary to the TV program, replicating the model behind CBS’ local news streaming service, CBSN, allowing viewers to watch both live programming as well as on-demand segments. The network is additionally integrated into the live feed of CBS All Access, CBS’ subscription streaming video service. According to CBS, ET’s social audience reaches more than 70 million American users a month, and ET Online attracts 20 million unique visitors a month.

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