The behemoth that is ESPN has been struggling as of late. Between anchors’ salaries and massive payouts for broadcast rights, the company’s expenses are sky high. Add to that a dwindling audience and it is clear that something has to give. Now, in a surprise move, the most powerful entity in the sports world has announced the layoff of 100 people, including big name hosts.
The growing trend of internet viewership has long plagued specific niche marketplaces such as SportCenter, but now it’s happening at a much quicker rate. To “keep the lights on” and grow in a more digital friendly direction, the company announced big names such as Trent Dilfer, Jayson Stark, Jay Crawford, and Ed Werder have all been let go.
In the past several years, ESPN has lost more than $10 million subscribers. Keeping and paying these big name anchors and hosts is money a bleeding company can’t afford to lose.
While those big named individuals thanked ESPN for their time with them, other staff members were furious when they received a phone call informing them they had lost their jobs as well.
An unnamed woman told reporters ESPN was as “cold as ice” and mishandled the entire situation. Another staff writer echoed a similar sentiment stating the situation was “F—in horrible.”
James Andrew Miller, who wrote a book about the super giant network stated: “ESPN was wrapped in Teflon for many years, but big payouts for rights fees plus significant losses in their subscriber base were like punches to the gut and head, and now the company is trying to make sure they are strong enough to fight in the future.”
This isn’t the first round of layoffs for the company either. In October 2015, over 300 employees were laid off.
ESPN’s president, John Skipper, issued a statement to employees that acknowledged the layoffs and what lies ahead for the network in the future.
“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands,” he said.
Other competitors of the network like Amazon have acquired portions of their viewer base. Last month, Amazon announced a deal with the NFL that would give them streaming rights for 10 Thursday Night Football games at a $50 million price tag.
It’s unclear if these layoffs will give the company time to regroup and recover or if this is the beginning of the end for the sports news dynasty.