ESPN Eliminates About 150 Jobs In Latest Round Of Layoffs
The long-rumored ESPN layoffs are taking place this morning, as the company is eliminating around 150 jobs. An ESPN source said the job cuts are mainly coming from the studio production, digital content and tech groups. In a memo sent to employees this morning, ESPN President John Skipper said the cuts “generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources. We will continue to invest in ways which will best position us to serve the modern sports fan and support the success of our business.”
The layoffs come as the media industry is trying to figure out how to grow in an era of declining subscriber numbers and increasing sports rights fees. As evidenced by Skipper’s statement, ESPN is going to emphasize that it is trying to pivot to deal with the current media environment, one that saw it launch a “SportsCenter”-branded show on Snapchat and plan for an '18 launch of its direct-to-consumer ESPN+ platform.
This marks the third time in the past two years that ESPN has laid off a sizable group of employees. In the fall of '15, it shed about 300 behind-the-scenes employees, including longtime execs and producers. Earlier this spring, it laid off around 100 employees, many of them on-air reporters, analysts and hosts. With its most recent layoffs, Skipper said the network is committed to pay affected employees a severance, their '17 bonuses, continue health benefits and provide outplacement services. The total number of layoffs in this round represents less than 2% of a workforce of roughly 8,000.