ESPN has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as a cut in revenue, a result of the pandemic forces the company to hasten the move to offer streaming services. The cuts will include 300 layoffs and 200 vacant positions will also be discontinued according to a memo, signed by ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro which was released on Thursday. ESPN has over 5,000 workers in different countries around the world.
“Before the pandemic, we were examining some new strategies that can assure the continued relevance and success of ESPN especially as there has been a significant change in the way people prefer to access sports news,” the memo reads.
Although ESPN did not reveal the areas where the job cuts will be enforced but sources who did not have the company’s permission to reveal the plans intimated that the job cuts will be made across different departments in the company which is co-owned by Disney. The memo explained that over the next few weeks affected employees will be told about the move, LA Times reports.
During the pandemic, ESPN had to postpone the NBA playoffs which are now scheduled to occur during the fall, a season which is noted for other sporting events meaning that ESPN will now share ratings with other companies. The president of the company also explained in his memo that the company had made executive and talent salary cuts, furloughs, and other cuts to avoid the move.
The memo also stipulates that the pandemic has changed the way sports news is delivered as many more people prefer streaming services over traditional television services. The company has therefore introduced a streaming platform – ESPN+ which has 8.5 million subscribers. Though most of its income still comes from cable and satellite operation fees, those platforms have been experiencing a steady reduction since 2010.
The job cuts announced by ESPN represent the latest of Walt Disney Co’s move to reduce the effects of the pandemic. In September Disney announced that 28,000 workers in its parks and other outlets would lose their jobs.
Bob Ley, a veteran sports anchor who also worked at ESPN has strongly condemned ESPN’s move to cut jobs.
“It is quite impossible to detach my emotions when thinking about the @espn workers who will lose their jobs,” Ley wrote on Twitter. “These are workers with decades of journalistic experience and expertise that we need now more than ever. Enjoy the DIS stock price and your NFL football.”
Bob Ley had a successful forty-year career at ESPN, starting from 1979 to June 2019 when he retired. He hosted “Outside the Lines” a program that has won 15 Sports Emmy Awards. He also anchored “Sports Center” and many other events for the news company including the first-ever broadcast of the NCAA College Basketball Selection Show.