For Pete's Sake

ESPN’s 150 layoffs on Wednesday reportedly will include some writers

This Sept. 16, 2013, file photo shows the ESPN logo prior to an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Cincinnati.
This Sept. 16, 2013, file photo shows the ESPN logo prior to an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Cincinnati. The Associated Press

The reconstruction of ESPN continued Wednesday as the network announced a second round of layoffs this year.

“Today we are informing approximately 150 people at ESPN that their jobs are being eliminated,” president John Skipper wrote in a message to employees.

“We appreciate their contributions, and will assist them as much as possible in this difficult moment with severance, a 2017 bonus, the continuation of health benefits and outplacement services. They will also appreciate your support.”

ESPN has lost 10 million cable subscribers over the last six years, according to the Associated Press, and that has coincided with increased costs for covering live sporting events. The Washington Post noted that the network pays $3.3 billion annually for NFL and NBA games.

In April, ESPN let go of a number of high-profile journalists, but this round of cuts involved behind-the-scenes people.

“The majority of the jobs eliminated are in studio production, digital content, and technology and they generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources,” Skipper said in the message to employees.

“We will continue to invest in ways which will best position us to serve the modern sports fan and support the success of our business.”

However, Sports Illustrated reported that ESPN also will not “re-sign anchors with contracts coming up in the next 12 months as part of cost savings. What is likely to happen is some SportsCenter shows will be cut from airing on ESPNews, according to multiple ESPN staffers.

“Some writers and editors, an ESPN source said, were expected to be part of today’s layoffs.”

The Associated Press story said that in 2018 the network will launch ESPN+, an app-based service that will allow viewers to purchase specific sporting events to watch. Also, ESPN is opening a new studio in New York, which will serve as home base for a new show featuring personalities Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose.

ESPN has roughly 8,000 employees, according to multiple sources.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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