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ESPN Disbands Content Development Group; Clinkscales Out

ESPN has decided to disband its Content Development Group and as part of the transition, group head Keith Clinkscales will be leaving the company, according to an internal memo from ESPN chief John Skipper obtained by B&C.

The group had been a part of the creation of several ESPN series, including E:60 and SportsNation.

Skipper writes that "our larger studio and event production group in Bristol has also developed significant new content and has recently launched over 800 new annual hours of studio programming, including the debuts of NFL32Dan LeBatard Is Highly Questionable and Numbers Never Lie.  It is my view that over time it will be more effective to house all of this activity in Bristol within the existing Bristol Programming and Production groups.  As a result, we will no longer maintain a separate Content Development department."

The division had more than 30 people in it, but it has yet to be determined or announced how many of those people will stay with the company.  Sources with knowledge of the move said it was not made for cost savings from a headcount standpoint, but rather just part of a re-organization.

Skipper did not say how many jobs will be eliminated in this move, but did note in the memo: "We fully recognize that people who are our friends and colleagues will be affected.  We thank all involved for their efforts on our behalf and we will support them during this transition.  We will implement these changes over the next 90 days." 

Skipper also notes in the memo that Clinkscales will be starting his own company, and that ESPN "will continue our relationship with Keith as an independent producer on future web and film projects."