An upcoming round of job cuts at ESPN will reportedly take place after Thanksgiving that could eliminate more than 100 positions at the sports network.
According to Sports Illustrated, the layoffs will impact on-air talent as well as producers, executives and digital and technology staff. The staff at SportsCenter is expected to bear the brunt of the job cuts.
The newly reported scope of the upcoming layoffs at ESPN exceed the numbers previously reported by Sporting News, making this the third time in about two years that ESPN has cut more than 100 jobs in a single round of layoffs.
In April, the company laid off around 100 people. In October 2015, the network laid off about 300 employees.
The cuts at ESPN arrive as parent company Disney is reportedly planning its own round of layoffs. Earlier this month, Variety reported that Disney began giving notice to affected employees, but the amount of staff reduction and overall cuts will be “significantly lower” than the previously announced 10%.
Disney yesterday reported its third-quarter earnings, and while revenues overall were down 3%, the company’s cable networks segment, which houses ESPN, remained largely flat with revenues of $3.95 billion.
While cable networks like Freeform struggled, results at ESPN remained flat as higher programming costs and lower advertising revenue were offset by higher affiliate revenue. The decrease in advertising revenue was pinned on lower average viewership and lower units delivered. The affiliate revenue growth came from contractual rate increases, though ESPN continued to lose subscribers.
As ESPN continues to juggle lower ratings, declining subscribers and inflating programming costs, speculation has emerged that the network may opt out or lose its NFL Monday Night Football rights after the contract is up in 2021.
Disney CEO Bob Iger during yesterday’s earnings call declined to comment on the reports but reaffirmed his company’s relationship with the league.
“We've had a long, healthy relationship with the NFL. It's important product to ESPN, both the live games that we have on Monday night and all the shoulder programming that we do, some of it or much of it licensed directly from the NFL,” said Iger, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.