ESPN Is Reportedly About To Lay Off 100-Plus More Staff

It would be the third major lay-off for ESPN in three years.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Just when you think the bleeding may have stopped at ESPN, the sports network is reportedly planning to lay off more than 100 workers following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Although ESPN hasn’t yet commented on the matter, this is what sources have supposedly told Sports Illustrated.

S.I.

The layoffs, which were described by a person briefed on the plans, will hit positions across ESPN including front-facing talent on the television side, producers, executives, and digital and technology staffers. The SportsCenter franchise is expected to be hit hard—including on-air people—given the frequency of the show has lessened considerably on main network ESPN.

ESPN employees are also allegedly saying the mood at the network is “tense,” with one longtime on-air anchor describing the atmosphere as “queasy.”

The only reason these latest lay-offs haven’t yet happened is that ESPN wants to get their employees an additional year in the stock vesting program, according to sources.

The Disney-owned company laid off roughly 300 employees in October of 2015 — about four to five percent of its work force. And ESPN experienced a ‘Doomsday’ this past spring when they laid off roughly 100 on-air talent in a single day. At the time, the company said it was a “necessary component” in order to “manage change.” That change being the amount of cash coming in from cable subscriptions.

The network reportedly had 100.1 million households in 2011. Now, due to cord cutting, that number is somewhere around 87.5 million.

Part of the reason ESPN will conduct the moves in late November/early December, two sources said, is to get employees an additional year in the stock vesting program.

I cut the cord years ago. However, I still get ESPN through Sling-TV, as do millions of others. I suggest there’s possibly more to blame for these layoffs than just the single factor of cord-cutting.


Josh Helmuth is the editor of Crave Sports

Photo: Getty