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.
After 14 wonderful years my time at espn is over. From Cold Pizza to First Take to SC I made more friends than I can name. Forever grateful! pic.twitter.com/WNkUGuXeVl
— Jay Crawford (@jaycrawfordespn) April 26, 2017
After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I’ve been informed that I’m being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2017
Laid off by ESPN today.Although sad cause I loved my job, mostly filled w/gratitude & appreciation for the 9 years #GreatFriendsAndTeammates
— Trent Dilfer (@DilfersDime) April 26, 2017
As well as ESPN Radio host/analyst Danny Kanell:
Poured my heart and soul into ESPN for last 8 years. Moved my wife and 3 kids to CT to go “all in” 5 years ago. Bummed it ended in 3 minutes
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 26, 2017
A number of other ESPN on-air reporters and columnists are tweeting out their “goodbyes,” including:
Super Bowls, The Trifecta and stories like the one up now are the moments I’ll take with me into free agency starting tomorrow.
— Jane McManus (@janesports) April 26, 2017
For 17 yrs I’ve had a dream job covering baseball for ESPN. Today is my last day. Thanks to all the great people at ESPN, MLB & all of you!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 26, 2017
I was only at ESPN for 4 years, but they were some of the best of my career. Thanks to all of the fans and to my entire SportsCenterAM crew. pic.twitter.com/gxKuUh13ck
— Jaymee Sire (@jaymee) April 26, 2017
Knew cuts were coming. Sad to say nine great years at ESPN end for me in July. Please stay tuned to @Midday180.
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) April 24, 2017
After 13 years of sticks and pucks can share that as of today my tenure at ESPN is at a close. I look forward to the next adventure.
— Scott Burnside (@OvertimeScottB) April 26, 2017
After nearly eight years of covering the NHL, MLB and the NFL at ESPN, it’s time for the next chapter in my career.
— Joe McDonald (@MrMomJoeyMac) April 26, 2017
Want to thank https://t.co/r6GdLhHkPg for 9 fun years. Absolutely loved the gig. And very much look forward to continuing my work at TSN/RDS
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 26, 2017
Add me to the list. Just got the ‘call.’ I’ve been informed my contract will not be renewed at ESPN.
— Dana O’Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) April 26, 2017
I feel blessed & privileged to have worked @ESPN and most importantly work w/ so many great people.Thank you. I look forward to what’s next
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenMLB) April 26, 2017
After 5 great years, I’ve been laid off by ESPN. It was a tremendous opportunity & I enjoyed working w/a lot of really, really good people
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) April 26, 2017
Bad news morning. I loved every bit of my eight years at ESPN and will miss it, and so many friends and colleagues there, profoundly.
— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) April 26, 2017
It’s ironic ESPN laid me off the same day as my first partner on the cowboys @Edwerderespn. I haven’t been a FA in forever. This shud be fun
— Jean-Jacques Taylor (@JJT_ESPNDallas) April 26, 2017
Gee, I feel like I am now part of an exclusive club. #ESPNLayoff. For 21 yrs. I tried to represent the best in college hoops. Adios Bristol!
— Len Elmore (@LenElmore) April 26, 2017
I had a great 6+ years at ESPN, but it’s over. I will badly miss all the talented folks there, many of whom I call dear friends. #Onward
— Ashley Fox (@AshleyFoxESPN) April 26, 2017
So, I am no longer with ESPN, as of today. I want to thank all the great people I’ve worked with and, of course, the readers + listeners
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 26, 2017
Sorry to get the call from ESPN this a.m., but grateful for my eight years there and trying to positively look ahead.
— Melissa Isaacson (@mkisaacson) April 26, 2017
After seven great years at ESPN I’ve been let go. Much respect to all the people.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) April 26, 2017
I just found out I’m among the layoffs at ESPN today. Enjoyed my eight years there immensely. Looking forward to what’s next.
— Johnette Howard (@JohnetteHoward) April 26, 2017
Rough day. Just learned I will no longer be covering the Dodgers. Enjoyed my 7 years at ESPN. On to the next chapter.
— Doug Padilla (@DougPadilla) April 26, 2017
Like many others, I got the call today from ESPN that today would be my last with them. A few parting words: https://t.co/pBfnewUHIG
— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) April 26, 2017
Today was my last day on air at ESPN Radio. On to the next…I’ll let everyone know what that is when I do. pic.twitter.com/1wTnGfRVcW
— Robin Lundberg (@robinlundberg) April 26, 2017
Grateful for all the opportunities I had in my 4+ years at ESPN. Many great people lost their jobs today. But many other greats remain.
— Chris Hassel (@Hassel_Chris) April 26, 2017
Time to go. Thanks to ESPN for allowing me to be their legal analyst for 13 years. Made great friends and have wonderful memories.
— Roger Cossack (@RogerCossack) April 26, 2017
My time with ESPN comes to a close today as I join the sidelines with so many other talented… https://t.co/8wV4O1H3G2
— Dottie Pepper (@Dottie_Pepper) April 26, 2017
ESPN gave me the light and it’s time to leave stage. Sincere gratitude to those who were so kind and supportive. Sorry for the mess I made. pic.twitter.com/jr5jJpZHOe
— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) April 26, 2017