Sources: ESPN Laying Off More Than 100 Staffers After Thanksgiving Holidays
ESPN will "lay off more than 100 staffers after the Thanksgiving holidays," according to sources cited by Richard Deitsch of SI.com. The layoffs will "hit positions across ESPN," including "producers, executives, and digital and technology staffers." The "SportsCenter" franchise is also "expected to be hit hard ... given the frequency of the show has lessened considerably on main network ESPN." The marks the third round of large layoffs in slightly more than two years -- ESPN in October '15 "laid off roughly 300 employees, about 4-5% of its workforce," then "eliminated around 100 journalists and on-air personalities" last April. Sources said that part of the "reason ESPN will conduct the moves in late November/early December" is to "get employees an additional year in the stock vesting program" (SI.com, 11/9). In N.Y., Mark Sanchez writes the "triple-digit number represents an escalation from the first report that outlined ESPN’s coming troubles, as Sporting News reported Oct. 28 that 40 to 60 members" of the company's workforce would be laid off (N.Y. POST, 11/10). CNBC's Julia Boorstin noted ESPN is "still continuing to hire in some areas even as they do these layoffs." CNBC's Mike Santoli added, "It's obviously sort of an ongoing process to resize the whole business and shift it in stages away from the cable toward the digital and all the rest of it. I don't think it's a surprise within the scheme of Disney -- 100 is not a big number. But clearly it doesn't seem like they're at the end of the process of restructuring.” Surevest Wealth Management CEO Robert Luna said of the planned layoffs, "It's still probably a little bit more than most people were expecting, so it is news" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 11/9).
TALKING POINTS: In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic writes under the header, "You're Grinning About ESPN's Demise For The Wrong Reason." Some will "rejoice" in ESPN's layoffs, as it is "how things roll when someone or some entity climbs to the top and ... mutates into something we no longer recognize." ESPN, "like most mammoth companies, has made its share of mistakes," and "SportsCenter" has "completely lost its way." ESPN Films' "30 for 30" franchise is "by and large, excellent" and one of the few "features left on the network that feel indispensable." However, this kind of quality "might as well have been compartmentalized within one small subsection of the Bristol headquarters, because it was so sparse in all other programming." ESPN is "failing because cable is failing." The "reasons we talk so much more about ESPN failing than the many, many other channels being hit hard is that ESPN might be the one with the furthest to fall" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 11/10).