ESPN to Lay Off 150 Workers

ESPN will lay off about 150 employees across several departments, the sports network said Wednesday, representing less than 2% of its 8,000-member workforce.
The layoffs will mostly affect behind-the-scenes workers. It is the second round of layoffs at the company this year – it let go about 100 workers, mostly on-air people, in April.

In a memo to employees Wednesday that was posted on its ESPN Front Row site, ESPN president John Skipper said the majority of layoffs would affect employees in studio production, digital content, and technology. The layoffs, he added, “generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources. We will continue to invest in ways which will best position us to serve the modern sports fan and support the success of our business.”

Employees affected by the layoffs will receive severance, a 2017 bonus, the continuation of health benefits and outplacement services.

ESPN has struggled along with the rest of the pay TV industry as cord cutters and skinny bundles have upended traditional business models. The company has tried to address the changing landscape with an upcoming direct-to-consumer offering called ESPN+, and has shifted resource and focus to accommodate a changing audience.

For example, ESPN recently relaunched its ESPN app, is gearing up for the 2019 launch of ACC Network and has premiered new shows like Get Up with Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose as well as a new daily show with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre. The network also has taken a harder look at its SportsCenter franchise, introducing a new version on social media site Snapchat and taking a close look at linear editions to determine which shows have the most impact. According to one source familiar with the company’s thinking, ESPN will continue to hire within segments it believes are essential to that new strategy, including technology.