Tags: Money | ESPN | Layoffs

ESPN Cuts 100 On-Air Jobs Amid TV Woes

ESPN Cuts 100 On-Air Jobs Amid TV Woes
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Wednesday, 26 April 2017 01:09 PM

Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN network cut about 100 staffers, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the leader in sports TV copes with rising programming costs and an eroding subscriber base.

ESPN is placing more focus on its rejiggered "SportsCenter" lineup as well as digital content associated with that program.

A person familiar with the situation said those employees will come from the ranks of on-air talent as well as people devoted to producing reports for its print and online outlets: 

Anchor John Buccigross is reportedly in limbo; anchors Karl Ravech and Hannah Storm will have their roles significantly reduced.

Paul Kuharsky, a nine-year ESPN veteran who has covered the Tennessee Titans and southeastern NFL teams, indicated via Twitter that he did not expect his current contract to be renewed when it expires in July.

Others who are leaving include Ed Werder, a longtime NFL reporter; Scott Burnside, an NHL columinst for ESPN.com; ESPNU anchor Brendan Fitzgerald; MLB analyst Jim Bowden; former Florida State quarterback and radio analyst Danny Kanell; and longtime college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil.

"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," said ESPN President John Skipper in a memo sent to employees. "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 demand."

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger has said this year's modest earnings-per-share growth would be an "anomaly," due in part to a $600 million increase in costs for rights to National Basketball Association games.

That's especially painful as some consumers cancel pay-TV subscriptions in favor of online options. ESPN, the highest-priced part of the typical cable TV package, is particularly impacted by cord-cutters because the network generates so much revenue from subscriptions.

Disney, which releases first-quarter earnings results May 9, may report as much as a 16 percent increase in cable costs, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis.

The availability of sports clips and news online is also contributing to viewer losses for the network's flagship SportsCenter program. ESPN is devoting more time to commentary shows filmed in the studio and less to reports from the field, reducing the need for correspondents.

In a separate note to employees Wednesday, ESPN executives said the network is focused on providing content “at any minute of the day on any screen” as fans spent more times on phones.

ESPN, which is based in Bristol, Connecticut, also cut jobs in 2013 and 2015.

Material from Bloomberg was used in this report. 

© 2019 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN network cut about 100 staffers, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the leader in sports TV copes with rising programming costs and an eroding subscriber base. ESPN is placing more focus on its rejiggered "SportsCenter" lineup as well as...
ESPN, Layoffs
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2017-09-26
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 01:09 PM
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