ESPN will lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers, source says
NEW YORK – ESPN plans to lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers, a source familiar with the matter told CNNMoney on Wednesday.
The job cuts, including television, radio and online personalities, will be announced Wednesday, and most will take effect immediately, the source said. ESPN also plans to cut what the source described as a limited number of additional off-air jobs.
ESPN is shifting its focus toward digital as it faces cable subscriber losses and increased pressure on costs. The network has spent billions of dollars in recent years on rights deals with major sports leagues and college conferences.
It was not immediately clear who was losing their jobs. But Ed Werder, a prominent NFL reporter, said on Twitter that he was among those laid off. “I have no plans to retire,” he said.
ESPN declined to comment on the job cuts. In a note to employees, however, ESPN president John Skipper mentioned the changing habits of viewers.
“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” he wrote. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”
Many of the people who were laid off were coming to the end of their contracts and did not want to accept large pay cuts, the source said. For others, ESPN offered to buy them out of their contracts.
ESPN employs about 8,000 people around the world.
Jim Miller, the co-author of “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN,” told CNNMoney that ESPN believed the moves were necessary “to not only stay competitive, but to help transition their content strategy for the future.”
“SportsCenter,” ESPN’s flagship show, will become more of a digital presence and move away from “a show with many, many, highly paid anchors,” Miller said.
“ESPN is arguably one of the greatest success stories in the history of modern media,” Miller added. “But now even it can’t escape some of the harsh realities of an ever changing technological landscape.”
By Ahiza Garcia and Frank Pallotta, CNNMoney