Report: ESPN mulling layoffs of 200-300 staffers amid shifting pay-TV landscape

ESPN is considering cutting 200-300 employees, reports sports news site The Big Lead. The news comes as the overall U.S. pay-TV industry continues to lose subscribers and the cost for sports programming continues to rise.

According to the report, the Disney-owned national sports cable network is looking to trim $100 million from its 2016 budget and $250 million from its bottom line in 2017. In fact, cuts could ultimately go deeper than 300.

"ESPN has historically embraced evolving technology to smartly navigate our business," the company said in a statement. The company did not comment directly on the report about layoffs. "Any organizational changes will be announced directly to our employees if and when appropriate."

ESPN has long been cable programming's top revenue earner, taking in an industry-leading average of $6.61 per subscriber. But ESPN recently conceded it has lost a significant number of pay-TV customers -- Nielsen counted the attrition at around 3.2 million subscribers in a little over a year.

Meanwhile, the cost for live sports programming just keeps going up. Under its new agreement with the NBA, for example, ESPN's yearly licensing cost increased from $485 million to $1.47 billion.

ESPN has already saved some coin by not electing to renew the contracts of high-profile on-air personalities Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons. And it let itself get outbid for Colin Cowherd, who was recently poached by upstart rival Fox Sports 1.

According to The Big Lead, ESPN will be cutting costs next month on its flagship news show, SportsCenter.

For more:
- read this story on The Big Lead
- read this Variety story

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