Just what everyone wants to hear right before the holidays… Losing your job and livelihood in the weeks leading up to Christmas is one of the nation’s biggest nightmares. Unfortunately, it happened right here in Connecticut. Again.
FOX 61 reports that ESPN President John Skipper confirmed that the company will terminate an additional 150 positions. Of the affected positions, the majority of layoffs are in studio production, digital content, and technology. Executives say the layoffs will have a minimal impact on their SportsCenter news program because they don’t include on-air talent.
Skipper said the company will do what it can to help their workers land on their feet:
“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.”
2017’s been a tough year for ESPN. The Disney-owned network struggled with a litany of controversies. In April, the company came under fire for cutting ties with broadcasting legends such as Ed Werder, Trent Dilfer and Danny Kanell.
Most recently, people mocked ESPN when they pulled announcer Robert Lee from a college football game. All because his name sounded like Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General.
Yeah, 2017’s been such a wild ride, we forgot about that huge debate over the Confederate flag and the riots in Charlottesville. Or did that become the least surprising thing that happened all year?
Either way, the 38-year-old network is in a free fall. They lost about 10 million subscribers over the past six years due to rising fees to broadcast live events. Disney confirmed the network went from 100 million subscribers from its heyday in 2010 to a meager 88 million subscribers.
Still, ESPN employs about 8,000 employees worldwide. Therefore, the layoffs appear minimal when compared to their overall employee base.
So, for now, the network aims to go with the changing times as Americans shift their habits when it comes to entertainment. That explains the arrival of ESPN+ next year, which streams content À la carte for subscribers.
Disney seems hellbent on creating more content for mobile screens. TV is no longer the primary choice when it comes to broadcasting content first. So, in the midst of these layoffs, it’s due to Disney hiring individuals that work across multiple platforms.
It’s possible that ESPN will start hiring again, but most likely for their new projects to reengage their dwindling audience. Only time will tell whether they succeed or not.
Either way, it’s a sad day in Bristol. No one likes hearing about people losing their jobs, especially around this time of year. But, here’s hoping those workers find better jobs because they worked at such a legendary network.
Do you think ESPN will pull itself out of its death spiral? Or do you think the Disney machine is sucking the life out of a once great network?