ESPN announced on Wednesday that 100 of its on-air personalities will be laid off this week, as the sports network looks to reshape its business model.
For years, the rising cost of sports programming, in addition to the rise in cord-cutting, have had ESPN investors worried about the fate of the company. This week's layoffs demonstrates a new shift for the network, which had to sacrifice its talent budget in order to afford exclusive TV deals with the biggest sports leagues: NFL, NBA and MLB.
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ESPN President John Skipper indicated that the layoffs were necessary.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” Skipper wrote in a note to employees. “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."
"These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company," Skipper continued. "I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN."
Some well-known talent, including NFL reporter Ed Werder, MLB writer Jayson Stark and NHL columnist Scott Burnside, took to social media to let their followers know that they have been axed from the network. Here are some of the reactions below:
After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I've been informed that I'm being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2017
Poured my heart and soul into ESPN for last 8 years. Moved my wife and 3 kids to CT to go "all in" 5 years ago. Bummed it ended in 3 minutes — Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 26, 2017
For 17 yrs I've had a dream job covering baseball for ESPN. Today is my last day. Thanks to all the great people at ESPN, MLB & all of you!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 26, 2017
Like far too many other ESPN colleagues today, I’ve been laid off. Enjoyed nine great years here. Thanks for reading and following along.
— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) April 26, 2017
Add me to the list. Just got the 'call.' I've been informed my contract will not be renewed at ESPN.
— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) April 26, 2017