As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact sports, the media side of the industry bore the latest brunt.
ESPN on Thursday announced a company-wide reduction of 300 staffers, network president Jimmy Pitaro said in a memo to employees obtained by USA TODAY Sports. In addition to calling the moment an "inflection point," Pitaro said 200 open positions at ESPN will not be filled.
Disney, ESPN's parent company, has suffered significant losses due to the pandemic. But even before COVID-19, cord-cutting and customer behavior shifts caused Disney to examine its digital strategy and begin emphasizing direct-to-consumer products and practices.
A view of the ESPN logo. (Photo: Mike Windle, Getty Images for ESPN)
"Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports," Pitaro wrote in his memo. "The pandemic's significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions."
Earlier this week, The Athletic reported the layoffs were expected to focus on remote production, while some cost savings could come from the non-renewal of talent contracts. ESPN endured a cut of a similar size (approximately 300) in October 2015 and laid off nearly 200 staffers — almost half being journalists or on-air talent — in 2017.
According to Sportico, ESPN employs about 4,000 at its headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, and about 2,500 other staffers around the world.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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