BRISTOL, CT (CelebrityAccess) — Sports cable network ESPN announced its next round of layoffs on Wednesday, dramatically thinning the ranks of their on-air talent.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” ESPN president John Skipper wrote in a message to employees obtained by the Washington Post. “Our content strategy — primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand — still needs to go further, faster … and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.”
Personalities and reporters who were affected by the latest round of cuts include: Britt McHenry, Trent Dilfer, Ed Werder, Doug Glanville, Jade McCarthy, Darren Haynes, Marysol Castro, Jaymee Sire, Chris Hassel, Crawford, Dana O’Neil and Robin Lundberg.
The layoffs are an attempt by ESPN to address two major challenges – the shift of viewers, particularly millennials, away from cable television, coupled with increasingly expensive licensing deals for professional sports.
According to the Post, the network has lost about 12 million viewers in the past year, as cord-cutters increasingly drop pricey cable television packages in exchange for content delivered over the internet.
At the same time, ESPN's ability to carry live sports has become increasingly expensive. The Post reported that last year, the network signed a new, nine-year deal with the NBA that amounts to about 1.5 billion per year, substantially higher than past agreements. The networks existing contract with the NFL stands at approximately $1.9 billion annually and that's not even considering the deals for college sports.
The latest round of cuts marks the second time in two years that the network has thinned its ranks. In 2015, ESPN trimmed its workforce by more than 300, mostly from production and administrative staff. In total, the network employs about 8,000 people, the WaPo said. – Staff Writers