ESPN is Laying Off 100 Staffers, Primarily On-Air Talent

By A.J. Katz Comment

It’s a dark day for The Worldwide Leader in Sports. ESPN is laying off a whopping 100 staffers today, as the network continues to shift its daily lineup of shows, and their online video and content to match.

ESPN has been having well-publicized issues when it comes to declining subscription revenue and cord-cutting. The network has also been forced to spend billions of dollars in recent years on rights deals with the major pro sports leagues and college conferences, including a 10-year, $15.2 billion deal with the NFL in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the NBA; and a $7.3 billion deal for the NCAA college football playoffs.

These layoffs come as parent company Disney is getting ready to unveil an ESPN subscription streaming service. The service is expected later this year and is being made possible by Disney’s $1 billion purchase in 2016 of part of BamTech, Major League Baseball’s streaming division. According to the New York Times, the OTT service “will include coverage of sports like hockey, tennis, cricket and college sports — mostly rights that are already owned by ESPN but not televised.”

With all of these changes in mind, seeing a number of staff layoffs isn’t a huge shock. What is more of a shock is the fact that the people being laid off today have made their living at the network in front of the camera, not behind.

ESPN president John Skipper posted the following memo on the network’s website to employees:

“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. 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.”

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”

The Hollywood Reporter writes that well-known on-air personalities Karl Ravech, Ryen Russillo, and Hannah Storm will see their roles at the network “significantly reduced.” ESPN icon Chris Berman experienced this back in January.

Would Storm make a move back into the world of TV news?

The last time ESPN trimmed down its workforce was in October 2015, when Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann were among those laid off. The duo was among the 300+ who were fired that year, which amounted to around 4 percent of the network’s workforce.

Many of the names who have been let go are taking to Twitter, including SportsCenter anchor Jay Crawford, NFL reporter Ed Werder, and NFL Countdown analyst Trent Dilfer.

As well as ESPN Radio host/analyst Danny Kanell:

A number of other ESPN on-air reporters and columnists are tweeting out their “goodbyes,” including:

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