ESPN Laying Off More Than 300, Including Upper-Level Employees

ESPN is laying off between 300 and 350 employees, according to various reports. The job cuts focus on upper-level employees with “six-figure salary or more,” according to The Big Lead, which first reported the job cuts in September. According to the initial report, the cuts are part of parent company Disney’s edict to trim $100 million from its 2016 budget and $250 million from its 2017 budget. When asked whether the cuts affect the remote-production operations, Bristol/L.A. engineering, or technology departments, an ESPN spokesperson directed SVG to ESPN President/Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks John Skipper’s message to ESPN Employees.

ESPN-Logo“Beginning today, we will be enacting a number of organizational changes at ESPN to better support our future goals — a process that will include the elimination of a number of positions, impacting friends and colleagues across the organization,” Skipper says in the statement. “We carefully considered and deliberated alternatives before making each decision. The people who will be leaving us have been part of ESPN’s success, and they have our respect and appreciation for their contributions. We will be as supportive as we can during this transition, including providing a minimum of 60 days’ notice, a severance package reflective of their years of service, and outplacement benefits to help them find future employment.”

The layoffs taking place this week impact roughly 4% of the ESPN’s 8,000-person global workforce (approximately 4,200 of which are located at the company’s Bristol, CT, headquarters).

The cuts come following Disney CEO Robert Iger’s acknowledgment in August that “ESPN has experienced some modest sub losses,” largely due to cord-cutting and cord-shaving measures by consumers. According to Nielsen (via the NY Times), ESPN’s subscriber base has fallen to 91.8 million from 98.9 million in October 2013.

These issues have called into question the long-term viability of the cable bundle moving forward, as well as the dual-revenue ad-sales/subscription-fees model on which ESPN has forged his success over three decades. In addition, Iger’s comments helped set off a nosedive of Disney stock on Wall Street, along with several other big-media stocks.

In his statement, Skipper also lays out “a broad strategy … to build the future of ESPN” and describes three primary initiatives, notably “constant and relentless innovation, including integrating emerging technology into all aspects of our business.” The other initiatives are enhancing sales and marketing efforts and rethinking distribution strategies.

CLICK HERE for Skipper’s full statement.

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