ESPN had been reported to be planning to fire 40 to 60 employees, sometime in late November or early December. However, that number could be far higher, with the network’s flagship program, “SportsCenter,” bearing the brunt.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, who cited “multiple sources,” ESPN is set to let go of over 100 staffers after Thanksgiving. The layoffs will reportedly include on-air talent, as well as executives, producers and employees on digital platforms.
Deitsch wrote that the “SportsCenter franchise is expected to be hit hard” by the layoffs. He also noted that this will be the third episode of major personnel upheaval at the network in the past two years.
In October 2015, ESPN began a process that resulted in around 300 employees, about four percent of its workforce, losing their jobs. To many viewers, that was the first sign that the sports-media behemoth was feeling a financial pinch, both from rising rights fees to sports events and from a shrinking subscriber base.
That round of layoffs mostly targeted producers, editors and other behind-the-scenes staffers, but another one in April saw the firings of dozens of on-air personalities and well-known reporters. “Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement at the time.
ESPN has yet to provide a comment on Thursday’s report. Earlier in the day, Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN, reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit.
According to Reuters, Walt Disney’s cable business, including ESPN and the Disney Channel, fell below analysts’ expectations, albeit only slightly. In response to the cord-cutting that has eaten into every cable network’s subscriber base, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said Thursday that a new streaming service called ESPN Plus will launch in the spring.
(H/T Awful Announcing)
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