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ESPN to Reduce Workforce, Focus More on Streaming

(Image credit: ESPN)

BRISTOL, Conn.—ESPN is expected to lay off a number of its employees, according to a statement from Jimmy Pitaro, the network’s chairman. Variety has separately reported that the cuts are likely to eliminate 500 positions, which will include live production staff as the network is said to be focusing more on streaming and direct-to-consumer practices.

“For some time, ESPN has been engaged in planning for its future amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports. The pandemic’s effect on ESPN clearly accelerated our thinking on all fronts. Today, as a result of these circumstances, we informed our employees that we have made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce to create a more agile, efficient organization.

“We will move forward in a manner that will allow us to continue to best serve sports fans,” Pitaro concluded.

In a memo to employees, obtained by TVT's sister publication Multichannel News, Pitaro said:

“We have, however, reached an inflection point. The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”

Variety has reported that of the 500 positions that are expected to be cut, 300 are current employees and 200 are posts that are currently unfilled. The cuts are expected to be across the company, but Variety says that production employees are a part of the cuts as the network has been forced to adapt to remote production styles because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entertainment news publication says that the cuts are designed to free up resources for streaming, digital and other kinds of video experiences that the network hopes will engage fans in new ways.

Find out more in Variety’s full story

Earlier this year, Disney, ESPN's parent company, reorganized its operations to focus more on DTC.