ESPN announces 150 more layoffs

Published on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 21:03
Written by JUSTIN MUSZYNSKI

STAFF WRITER

BRISTOL - ESPN on Wednesday announced it is laying off 150 employees. The company would not comment on whether any of its Bristol staff ae facing layoffs.

ESPN President John Skipper made the announcement in the morning through a memo that went to network employees.

“We appreciate their contributions, and will assist them as much as possible in this difficult moment with severance, a 2017 bonus, the continuation of health benefits and outplacement services,” Skipper said in the memo. “They will also appreciate your support.”

Skipper added that the majority of the jobs eliminated are in studio production, digital content and technology. The elimination of these positions “generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources,” the memo continued.

This round of layoffs was preceded by the elimination of 100 positions on April, which included many on-air TV personalities. Those followed 300 layoffs in 2015, in addition to another round in 2013.

Wednesday’s announcement comes as ESPN has been dealing with declining ratings, with cable viewership falling, as the company has lost nearly 13 million subscribers in the last six years. The self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” continues to try to adapt to the habits of modern-day sports fans, as many have dropped typical cable providers in favor of streaming services.

ESPN employs about 8,000 people worldwide, including more than 4,000 in Connecticut. The most recent round of layoffs coincide with a number of new initiatives that have already gone into effect, as well as more planned in 2018 - some of which target a younger audience.

“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,” Skipper said Wednesday.

Steve Yavner, a sports journalism professor at Central Connecticut State University, said from an outside perspective, it feels like ESPN might be “scaling back” or “recalibrating its plan,” but “continues to do what it does and does it really well.”

Earlier this month, the sports media conglomerate launched a short form version of SportsCenter on Snapchat. This came after the company in October cancelled its partnership with Barstool Sports after only airing one episode of a sports talk show. Barstool, a satirical sports and men’s lifestyle blog, has been linked to a younger audience, but has also been criticized for some of its questionable content.

In the spring, ESPN is planning to launch its own on-demand streaming service, ESPN Plus. It is also planning to re-launch the ESPN app in the next few months and premiere a new show hosted by Mike Greenberg in New York.

Lorenzo Burgio contributed to this story.

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or jmuszynski@bristolpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @muszynskiBP.



Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, New Britain on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 21:03. Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2017 21:06.