ESPN to eliminate 300 jobs

ESPN will eliminate 300 jobs, according to a memo sent to staff on Thursday, with the sports network also saying it will not fill 200 open positions as the industry struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro wrote.

The cuts will reduce ESPN's staff to about 5,000.

For months, ESPN had almost no live sports programming outside of cornhole tournaments and Korean baseball games, leading to decimated ratings.

After resuming in mid-summer, one of its biggest revenue drivers, the NBA, saw its ratings for the Finals down almost 50 percent from last year, despite an appearance by LeBron James's Los Angeles Lakers.

The 41-year-old sports network is owned by Disney, one of the world's largest media conglomerates. The company has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with losses of an estimated $1 billion at its theme parks alone after they were shuttered for months earlier this year.

“We are parting ways with many exceptional teammates, all of whom have made important contributions to ESPN. These are not easy decisions, and we will work hard to make their transitions easier," Pitaro added on Thursday. "We will move forward in a manner that will allow us to continue to best serve sports fans.”