SBD/October 22, 2015/Media

ESPN Cuts Around 300 Employees Across All Areas; Production, Tech Groups Hit Hardest

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ESPN layoffs continue today and tomorrow, as the sports network trims around 300 of its employees. Cuts are affecting every part of ESPN’s business, with the production and technology groups getting hit the hardest, sources said. One longtime employee described the atmosphere in Bristol as the worst he has ever seen -- two-thirds of the company’s layoffs come from ESPN’s main HQ. Names of the layoffs have been slow to trickle out. Jim Miller, the co-author of the '11 book detailing the rise of ESPN, remarked on Twitter that 30-50-year-old men were most affected. He tweeted: “Not a good week to be a middle aged white guy. #espnlayoffs.” Many of the names included people who have been with the company for decades. Among the more recognizable execs were the highly respected Matt Murphy, who ESPN hired '93. Murphy, who was Senior VP/Digital Video Distribution, appeared regularly on industry panels and was quoted frequently in various news outlets. Another well-liked affiliate exec, John Porio, also was given his notice yesterday. Porio, who was VP/National Accounts, Affiliate Sales & Marketing, had been with ESPN since '97 and was a big part of the net's enormous growth. The production department saw heavy losses of people who have spent most of their careers in Bristol, including Senior Coordinating Producer Dave Miller -- a universally respected producer who has been an ESPN employee since its first year. Another well liked production exec, coordinating producer Gus Ramsey, said he was laid off after 21 years in a personal blog post. Baseball writer Peter Gammons said via Twitter that Ramsey was “one of the best people with whom I ever worked.” ESPN Radio 710 L.A. Program Dir Mike Thompson told a sports media blog that he was laid off “after a wonderful 12 years with the Walt Disney Company.”

DIFFICULT SITUATION: In a memo sent to employees yesterday morning, ESPN President John Skipper said the affected employees would get “a minimum of 60 days notice, a severance package reflective of their years of service and outplacement benefits to help them find future employment.” Skipper: “I realize this process will be difficult -- for everyone -- but we believe the steps we are taking will ultimately create important competitive advantages for our business over the long term.”
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