The self-named Worldwide Leader in Sports might also be the Worldwide Leader in Sports layoffs because ESPN reportedly is planning to show more employees the door before year’s end. The flagship SportsCenter broadcast could even be included in the downsizing.
In April, ESPN — which is still drowning in red ink and dragging down parent company Disney — let go about 100 employees, many of whom were familiar public-facing names, including on-air anchors, commentators, and website writers, and is still cutting severance checks to many of them on multi-year deals whose contracts haven’t officially expired. In the summer of 2013, the Bristol, Connecticut-based network jettisoned hundreds of production support staff, as it did again in October 2015.
According to what insiders told the Sporting News, the purported upcoming layoffs will affect the entire organizational chart.
‘The next round of cutbacks could come down in late November or early December, with 40-60 positions potentially being impacted, according to sources. The layoffs could hit both on-air TV/radio talent and behind-the-scenes production staffers…Another source expects the flagship SportsCenter franchise to lose people in front of and behind the camera.”
As the Inquisitr has chronicled, ESPN has lost millions of subscribers (and thus, an enormous amount of revenue from cable and satellite providers) through cord-cutting, and overall viewership is also down significantly. The sports network also overpaid for telecast rights fees to pro and college leagues, which is crushing the bottom line, as the Sporting News notes.
“…ESPN is struggling from the triple-whammy of a shrinking subscriber base, expensive billion-dollar TV rights for the NFL, NBA and other sports, and bloated talent costs. The network pays $1.9 billion annually for Monday Night Football and another $1.4 billion for the NBA.”
ESPN has also alienated many politically conservative viewers through its emphasis on social justice issues rather just delivering games and game highlights. ESPN’s public editor has previously acknowledged ESPN’s leftward movement, which has drawn criticism from ex-ESPN journalist Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, among others.
There have also been several highly publicized miscues at ESPN. These include pulling broadcaster Robert Lee from a University of Virginia football game because his name was similar to that of the Confederate general, suspending Jemele Hill for two weeks with pay for calling for a boycott of NFL advertisers in violation of the company’s social media guidelines (but not suspending her after accusing President Trump of white supremacy), and cancelling Barstool Van Talk after just one episode in a sexism flap with Barstool Sports.
Parenthetically, the revamped 6 p.m. Eastern version of SportsCenter (SC6 or The Six) on ESPN, anchored by Hill and Michael Smith, has failed to find an audience, despite a big marketing push as well as all the notoriety surrounding the Hill Twitter activity.
[Featured Image by Bob Child/AP Images]