Struggling ESPN begins laying off on-air personalities

ESPN should have stuck to just sports, but its programming and commentary has gone full leftist social justice warrior. It's no big secret that ESPN's liberal bias on political issues has been a major factor in the sports networks ratings decline. The sports network is now facing another round of layoffs has it struggles with massive loses in revenue and subscribers.

"We have long been about serving fans and innovating to create the best content for them.

"Today's fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do. Inevitably that has consequences for how we utilize our talent.

"We are confident that ESPN will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports," ESPN said in a statement.

ESPN laid off about 100 staffers on Wednesday, including recognizable reporters and analysts Ed Werder, Jayson Stark, and Trent Dilfer.

From The New York Times:

ESPN on Wednesday began another round of layoffs, this one aimed at on-air personalities, perhaps the starkest sign yet of the financial reckoning playing out in sports broadcasting as cord-cutting proliferates.

ESPN is by far the biggest and most powerful entity in the industry, and it also may feel the sting more as viewers turn away from traditional ways of consuming live sports.

The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to a 10-year, $15.2 billion deal with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.

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In 2015, ESPN laid off roughly 300 employees. Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons, both of whom had expensive contracts, were among the big names who were cut loose.

At the time of the 2015 cuts, it was reported that ESPN was told by its parent company, Disney, to "trim $100 million from the 2016 budget and $250 million in 2017."

At ESPN, in particular, the pending layoffs are driven by a confluence of factors.

Skyrocketing costs of broadcasting live sports.

ESPN pays over $3.3 billion each year to broadcast the NFL and NBA. Altogether, ESPN is projected to pay $7.3 million in rights fees this year — more than any company in the USA — according to SNL Kagan cited in Outkick The Coverage. But as costs rise revenue isn’t coming in to match.

ESPN’s declining subscription and viewership.

The sports network had over 88 million subscribers in December 2016, down from over 100 million in February 2011, which translates to nearly a billion dollars in losses annually, according to Deadspin.

In October, ESPN lost 621,000 million subscribers in its biggest one-month decline ever, according to Nielsen.

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