ESPN will lay off around 100 of its on-air and online anchors, reporters and analysts today, sources tell THE DAILY. So far, no specific names have been confirmed; they are expected to start becoming public this morning. ESPN is not announcing officially who is getting let go. Most of the people who are being laid off are not based in Bristol, which means much of the talent will learn their fate via a phone call. Execs making those calls this morning include Senior VP/Event & Studio Production Stephanie Druley, Senior VP/”SportsCenter” & News Rob King and Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman.
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. Back then, the names were not well known to most of ESPN viewers. Today’s cuts will include names that viewers know well.
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 a 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.”