We were saddened by the news that Bristol-based ESPN will lay off 150 employees, after eliminating 100 positions in April.
These are very special, creative people.
“The majority of the jobs eliminated are in studio production, digital content, and technology and they generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources,” ESPN president John Skipper wrote in memo.
Put another way, what we are seeing is an industry evolving.
In recent memory, the network was a vital part of a cable bundle that brought a wide array of programming into our homes - at one point (a long time ago) for as little as $25 a month. But the cost of cable has soared and the number of subscribers to ESPN has fallen, as viewers want more control over their entertainment selections and their budget.
The result: giants like Comcast now face competition from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime and ESPN has seen fans increasingly watch sports video clips on their mobile devices. To combat this loss, the company plans to introduce “ESPN+”, an app-based service that will allow viewers to purchase sporting events a la carte and has already added a new 3- to 5-minute digital version of Sports Center that launched this month on Snapchat.
ESPN, with the support of its parent, Disney, is trying to stay agile, reacting to a digital world that is changing at a dizzying pace - and that’s a good thing both for the company and for Bristol, where ESPN has become a vital part of the city’s economy.
That said, we wish the best to those 150 employees who will begin a job search today.