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ESPN Bracing for Major Cost Cuts

Sources inside and outside of ESPN say that the network is bracing for major cost cuts in 2020, including the potential layoffs of hundreds of employees.

ESPN currently has about 4,000 employees in Bristol, CT and another 2,500 employees in other offices across the United States and the world.

This news won’t come as any surprise to those who have been following the media business and/or Disney. NBC Universal layoffs impacted up to 10 percent of their 35,000 employees, including many at NBC Sports. CBS News was hit with layoffs in May. Fox Sports laid off 50-100 staffers in July. We could go on and on naming media organizations, both in and out of sports, who have had to slash their budgets lately.

At Disney, the parent company of ESPN, the pandemic has impacted many business operations, such as theme parks, cruises, movies and live sports. Though most sports leagues have been salvaged, there was some lost revenue in college football and other sports. As a result, Disney announced last week that it is laying off 28,000 employees.

ESPN has also been slowly transitioning away from a business model that primarily focuses on cable TV, where they have been steadily losing subscribers since 2015, to the OTT streaming future. No one yet knows how long it will take to evolve, but ESPN acknowledged the transition on Disney’s most recent earnings call.

ESPN had previously laid off about 300 behind-the-scenes workers in 2015 and and about 100 talents in 2017.

An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

53 Comments

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  1. These networks are using Covid as an excuse and will learn nothing going forward.

    These icons of media don’t seem to understand the American people / consumer / culture and what the viewers want to see on tv.

    Disney as an entertainment company has gone off the rails almost completely …

  2. Shocking that a company who paid Michelle Beadle 5 Mil per year on a multi year deal would ever make a poor business decision. Makes you wonder how many talented, fairly compensated for their skills people lost their jobs due to contracts like her’s a Jamelle Hill’s idiotic contract.

  3. I used to love Sportscenter and PTI. SVP and Rusillo were great on the radio. Everything was based on 99% sports, and 1% pop culture. Now it’s like watching CNN.

    And the worst part, is the new “talent” they’ve hired, clearly doesn’t even understand the sports they are covering, ie. this paragraph written by “Golf Writer” Mike Wells:

    “There was not a lot of talk publicly from players — including Tiger Woods — about possibly skipping the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday, potentially joining others in the sports world who are not playing games this week as a form of protest of racial injustice.”

    Mike…If you miss a single hole of a golf tournament, you’re dq’d. If you skip a round? Why was this even allowed to be published? Because people who don’t even understand the basic fundamentals of the sports they cover at ESPN are considered “talent”. I’m sure Mike Wells is a nice guy, and knows a few golfers and a few rules, but he has absolutely no business getting paid a 6 figure salary to write about a sport he doesn’t understand. For the “Worldwide Leader in Sports”. It’s an absolute joke.

  4. The guy that bothers me the most is Max Kellermen. I just don’t understand why this guy is such a prominent personality on ESPN. He personally insults so many viewers by calling anyone who supports Trump “subject to low IQ information”. I do not understand the business model of having an employee who insults such a large portion of the customer base.

    Like many others, I used to be an ESPN junkie….Sportscenter, PTI, etc….but a few years ago, I all but stopped watching ESPN, with the exception of some college football and some Monday Night Football.

    • Said it perfectly. Used to be a time not long ago that if my TV was on there was an 80% chance it on was ESPN. Never missed PTI and Around the Horn. Must have watched at least 3 Sportscenters a day. I don’t even have ESPN in my channel guide anymore. What a waste.

      The funny thing is, it could be reversed for all of them. They all could start making money hand over fist again. But they don’t have the discipline or fortitude to enforce the standards it would take to go back to the “Republicans buy sneakers too” mentality.

      It’s why we’re all here on Outkick and paying $99 for VIP. We’re lost and looking for an island.

          • I read about it. And by reading about it I come to find out that nothing has changed over at ESPN since I quit watching it a couple of years ago.

            BTW, Doc here! Grunt huh? Well, my little window licker, that explains your lack of understanding of the original comment. My words were too big.

      • I’ve stopped watching ESP!N many years ago and only watch when Ohio St. is on and that’s it. No Game Day, no Sports Center or any other crap. Even if they supported my political views, I just want to watch sports.

        It’s fundamentally bad to cutoff half/most of your audience as a public entity. News, shopping malls and the like are finding out that many other options exist and what they used to have a monopoly on, is gone for good. Places like OK provide what’s needed so they are just adding another anchor to their sinking ship.

    • Hey Chuck…I’m sure you know it’s all about viewers or clicks in the modern sports media age….used to drive me nuts, too ’til I stepped back.
      Skippy Skip Bayless went off on his hero, DAK, a couple weeks ago berating Dak for showing weakness when Dak talked about depression in public (even though Dak was referring to the loss of his older brother in April). EVERYBODY went off on Skippy Skip and you had to wonder.
      But what happened to their ratings? They went from being in the 130s out of 150 in cable ratings to being just south of 100th. That lasted a week maybe, but they’re still better than they used to be, so it’s all about saying outrageous shit to get noticed. Max can do that in his sleep.

    • Did he spew his agenda of social justice and racial inequality between plays? I’d be more broken up about possible layoffs at ESPN, but you get the impression that these are the people who, when interviewed for a job, want to know about the perks, the vacation time, the maternity/paternity leave and everything else that makes the job about “them,” rather than the work they’ll do for the audience. Now they’re drunk form being indulged in their virtue signaling and might as well get laid off — they’d be incapable of setting aside their politics and symbolic kneeling to just “shut up and dribble.”

      You let your dog take a dump in the living room long enough, then try to discipline it months later, and the dog will look at you like you’re crazy.

  5. We have not watched an ESPiN studio show or documentary for at least 3 years. Now, we also don’t watch live games when certain announcers (i.e., Mark Jones) is working them. Also have given up on College GameDay because we prefer Urban Meyer and FoxSports (despite the presence of that American intellectual, Reggie Bush.)

  6. Extra Sh-tty Programs Network.
    When you have a room full of midgets (a la Max Kellerman) who most likely never played anything in High School commenting on sports as if they actually know something, count me out.

  7. The unfortunate thing is that most of the people who are going to get axed are behind the scenes folks who are working hard to make ends meat. Few (if any) of the people that are most responsible for repelling viewers (Talentless hacks like Katie Nolan, Bomani Jones, Max Kellerman. Woke losers like Mark Jones& Stan Verrett. All those trashy bloggers at The Undefeated) are going to get booted.

  8. Being laid off sucks but something has to change with the entire media not just espn. Media has become so corrupt and hateful and siloed. It is really bad for our country and our only recourse is to cut the cord and stop watching. Totally sad state of affairs.

  9. Once upon a time, Mike & Mike In The Morning was the best show on television (or radio) – yes, all four hours of it. I remember the contests between the two and the stupid pay offs, Golic using the white board to “analyze” the most recent episode of The Bachelor and so many other entertaining episodes. It was all sports and entertainment.

    All gone for WOKE bs.

  10. Do not forget the $5 million buyout of the racist Jemele Hill although that is much less than her total contract to be paid out over so many years.
    How many jobs would that money cover if Disney/ESPN had made a smart decision before signing her in the first place? They knew of her MO.

  11. Funny how these moves seem to happen before they happen. Case in point: Keith Olberman announcing he`s leaving to start his own gig on You Tube because he “wants to effect the election”. Translation: I`ll just resign before getting fired. You reap what you sow…….da da da, da da da.

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