ESPN, which threw way too much money at sports leagues for the right to broadcast games, took its mistake out on its employees again today when it chopped some high-profile personalities, more than a year after it gutted 350 behind-the-camera employees.
ESPN has lost over 10 million subscribers because of cord-cutting in recent years, a number that’s likely to grow significantly if those who still subscribe to cable TV are given the right to pick which networks they don’t want to pay for.
ESPN president John Skipper sent a letter to his employees today, that included all of the usual rhetorical food groups of layoffs. Words like “nimble” and “dynamic” and everyone’s favorite: “strategic vision.”
ESPN has been actively engaged throughout its history in navigating changes in technology and fan behavior in order to continue to deliver quality, breakthrough content. Today, we are again focused on a strategic vision that will propel our vast array of networks and services forward.
A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble. 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. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.
These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.
Our objective in all we do is to best serve fans and their changing consumption habits while still maintaining an unparalleled and diverse talent roster that resonates with fans across all our platforms. We will continue to foster creativity and investment in the products and resources necessary to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.
Thank you as always for your continuing dedication to our work.
What most of that means is sports fans don’t want to watch SportsCenter anymore. They’d rather just watch video clips on their smartphones.
Analysis? You can get that when Joe from Blaine calls the local sportstalk radio station. It’s free.
Many of the ESPN employees have taken to Twitter to announce their own layoffs and, in one case, lament that they’re now stuck with a house in Bristol, Conn., a city where the unemployment rate is still stuck around 6 percent.
There’s a little something for everyone in the layoffs.
Even the National Review had a takeaway, saying the layoffs are the result of ESPN becoming “a left wing sports network.”
Middle America wants to pop a beer and listen to sports talk, they don’t want to be lectured about why Caitlyn Jenner is a hero, Michael Sam is the new Jackie Robinson of sports, and Colin Kaepernick is the Rosa Parks of football. ESPN made the mistake of trying to make liberal social media losers happy and as a result lost millions of viewers.
The National Review said the fact that hockey coverage took a significant hit in today’s layoffs is a sign that ESPN doesn’t recognize its political problem. It said hockey is the least political of all sports.
Investors? They’re often thrilled when people lose jobs. At midday, Disney stock was off its session lows.