ESPN is expected to trim its current employee base by more than 100 positions, as the Disney-owned sports-media outlet places new emphasis on digital initiatives such as a new video-streaming service, according to a report in Sports Illustrated.
ESPN declined to make executives available for comment. The company employs approximately 8,000 people. Employees could be culled from among executive, technology staff, on-air talent and other departments, according to the report.
At the same time, ESPN is preparing to hire new staff for several new efforts. ESPN is readying a direct-to-consumer sports service, as well as the launch of a regional sports network that covers the Atlantic Coast Conference. Some of these new initiatives could create new jobs, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A new round of dismissals would mark the third in recent months. ESPN, like many other media outlets,continues to grapple with massive changes in the way people consume content – even live sports. It’s no secret the business has seen a general decline in subscribers over several years’ time, even as it continues to pay millions of dollars in rights fees every year to the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA and other sports organizations to show the games that bring audiences to its screens. Executives at the Disney unit are placing more emphasis on mobile video – content that need not necessarily appear first on TV – as well as content related to flagship shows that is designed for digital viewers.
ESPN has been in cost-trimming mode for some time. ESPN dismissed around 100 employees – many of them veteran on-air personalities and news writers – after April of this year. In October of 2015, ESPN laid off approximately 300 employees. Earlier that year, it parted ways with two prominent employees, Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann.