SBD/April 26, 2017/Media

ESPN Begins Process Of Laying Off Around 100 Reporters, On-Air Personalities

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ESPN started laying off around 100 on-air and online anchors, reporters and analysts today. Many of the people who were let go took to Twitter after receiving a phone call from department heads alerting them of the news. Perhaps the biggest names confirmed to THE DAILY so far are radio host and college football studio analyst Danny Kanell, MLB host Jim Bowden and NFL reporter Ed Werder. The early cuts seemed particularly deep on ESPN’s NHL and college beats, though sources did not know why. As more names emerge, those cuts may not look so drastic. So far, three NHL reporters are known to have been let go: Scott Burnside, Pierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald. Five college reporters also said they were released: Jeremy Crabtree, Brett McMurphy, Dana O’Neil, Jesse Temple and Austin Ward. Soccer reporter Mike Goodman and ESPNU anchor Brendan Fitzgerald also tweeted that they received a phone call this morning telling them that they were being let go. Many of the early cuts also seemed to include a lot of online reporters. Sports media was consumed with the layoffs this morning, with Deadspin and Awful Announcing keeping a continuously updated list of ESPN layoffs. The Hollywood Reporter posted a story that SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross was laid off but later retracted that story.

LIST OF PEOPLE LET GO AS CONFIRMED TO THE DAILY
NAME
SPORT
Jim Bowden
MLB
Eamonn Brennan
College
Scott Burnside
NHL
Jeremy Crabtree
College
Brendan Fitzgerald
College Host
Mike Goodman
Soccer
Danny Kanell
College/Radio
Pierre LeBrun
NHL
Joe McDonald
NHL
Brett McMurphy
College
Dana O'Neil
College
Mark Saxon
MLB
Jean-Jacques Taylor
Columnist
Jesse Temple
College
Derek Tyson
College
Austin Ward
College
Ed Werder
NFL


FEWER SUBSCRIBERS, HIGHER RIGHTS FEES: Rumors of the job cuts have been swirling for months. With a declining subscriber base (ESPN has lost more than 1 million subs since January, according to Nielsen) and increased rights fees (ESPN’s new multi-billion dollar deal for the NBA started last fall), ESPN needed to make budget cuts. A year and a half ago, ESPN laid off around 300 employees for many of the same reasons. However, the names then were not well known to most of ESPN viewers. ESPN President John Skipper sent an email to all employees this morning alerting them of the pending cuts. He wrote, “We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.” Skipper’s email talked about ESPN’s changing “content strategy” that has seen the network launch personality-driven “SportsCenter” and focus more on digital. “A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” Skipper wrote. “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.”
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