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Volume 27 No. 53
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ESPN Asking Top Talent To Take 15% Pay Cut

ESPN has asked its 100 most highly paid commentators to take voluntary 15% pay cuts over the next three months, as the network deals with the financial implications from the sports world shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, SBJ has learned.

ESPN executives, including Connor Schell, Norby Williamson and Stephanie Druley, spent the morning calling the network’s commentators and their agents to ask them to take what is being described as voluntary pay cuts. It is not known yet how many of the 100 commentators have agreed to the salary reductions, which ESPN has said would be in place for the next three months.

In their phone calls with talent and agents, ESPN executives appealed to the commentators and their agents that these cuts would deter further furloughs for ESPN employees who may be in more precarious financial positions than some of the on-air commentators. The moves mirror salary cuts that hit ESPN’s executive ranks earlier this month, which amounted to 30% for Exec VPs, 25% for Senior VPs and 20% for VPs.

In a statement emailed to SBJ, ESPN said, "We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction. These are challenging times, and we are all in this together."

ESPN talent being impacted includes studio hosts like Stephen A. Smith (who makes a reported $8M per year) and Mike Greenberg (who makes a reported $6.5M per year), and game analysts like the highly paid Alex Rodriguez and Kirk Herbstreit, both of whom pull in seven figures per year.

The voluntary pay reductions are not expected to affect ESPN’s lower-paid talent, who make in the low six digits.