Report: ESPN Layoffs Will Include Technology, Production Departments
In a cost-cutting move aimed at increasing the company’s profitability, ESPN is laying off hundreds of employees this week. According to Deadspin, which first reported the news on Tuesday, the total job cuts could be as high as 400 employees. In addition, Deadspin also reports that these layoffs will hit the sales, technology, creative services, production, and remote production departments with further cuts at the ESPN’s Charlotte facility expected later this summer.
When asked whether the layoffs would affect ESPN’s production and engineering workforces, a network spokesperson responded with ESPN’s official statement regarding the cuts:
“We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative, and productive.”
The layoffs come as ESPN is dedicating massive funds to other new endeavors, including the skyrocketing cost of live sports rights and the construction of a new state-of-the-art Digital Center at its headquarters in Bristol, CT. ESPN has about 7,000 employees worldwide, with about 4,000 at its headquarters in Bristol.
As the cost of live sports rights continues to skyrocket, ESPN has forked out millions of dollars to secure this valuable DVR-proof live programming. Just this month, ESPN agreed to an 11-year deal for comprehensive rights to the US Open tennis tournament and a 20-year deal with the SEC to launch a new dedicated network with the conference. Those deals are just the latest in a recent string of rights moves, including a 12-year agreement announced in November for the new college football playoff system that will reportedly be worth about $470 million annually.
ESPN is also currently building out a massive new production facility in Bristol, dubbed Digital Center 2, which is set to open in early 2014 and will reportedly cost upwards of $125 million. The 193,000-square-foot facility will include four studios, including the new home of SportsCenter, and six production control rooms. Deadspin is reporting that the layoffs are direct result of ESPN’s need to “pay for the equipment and integration resources” for Digital Center 2. ESPN has not confirmed this report.
In addition, ESPN’s parent company, Disney, has enforced layoffs across several of its divisions, including 150 cuts at Walt Disney Studios and another 150 at the recently-acquired Lucasfilm (in the now-shuttered LucasArts video-game making division) in April.