According to media sources, including TheBigLead.com and Deadspin.com, the sports network ESPN is laying off up to 400 employees, mostly in technical and sales. Layoffs began yesterday and continue today. Current employees will be cut and unfilled positions may remain empty.
A statement from ESPN; “We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.”
Said thebiglead.com story, “… layoffs are part of a Disney-wide process. They are being sold as entrenching ESPN’s ‘dominant position in the marketplace’ long term. The up front expenses of securing ESPN’s various rights deals were cited as a reason for money being tight.”
Sources say that ESPN is reviewing its entire studio production department , which employs just under 3,000 people. Some shows are rumored to be on the chopping block. The show UNITE has already been suspected as an early cut.
Why the massive cuts? Some believe it’s because Disney simply wants to boost its bottom line. Others believe it’s because of ESPN’s shopping spree to buy rights to events, no matter the cost. This is ESPN's first major staff reduction since 2009.
Deadspin.com says the technology group was hit hard with at least 40 layoffs. Employees apparently get a decent severance package, two weeks for every year worked.
Another report says that ESPN's Denver Tech Center was shut down yesterday, with all 20 staff members terminated.
Finally, apparently the cuts don’t affect building new studios. ESPN recently unveiled plans for a new SportsCenter set.