ESPN informed its employees earlier on Thursday that it would lay off 300 employees across its entire business, while not filling 200 open positions as the pandemic continued to hit. to ESPN and its parent company, Disney.
The message was sent from ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro in a company-wide memorandum that The Post obtained.
Layoffs will not be concentrated in any one department and, according to one source, will be spread across the network. According to sources, the aerial staff will most likely be spared at this point, although ESPN has been looking at the contracts more closely in recent months, letting some expire.
For example, as previously reported, former morning host and NFL Draft host Trey Wingo will not be able to renew their contract after expiring at the end of the year.
“We will be parting with many exceptional teammates, all of whom have made important contributions to ESPN,” said Pitaro as part of a statement. “These are not easy decisions and we will work hard to make their transition easier.”
As is the case with Disney, ESPN is trying to move much of its business directly to consumers. It created ESPN +, which reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming to fewer people.
While Disney is trying to transform further, it remains focused on ABC / ESPN. It is in talks with the NFL to renew its relationship with the tournament. It is currently paying $ 2 billion for rights including ‘Monday Night Football’.
The Post reported this week that Disney is working hard to win “Sunday Night Football” out of NBC. It also wants two NFL packages. For almost two years, it has been known that Disney wants to add a Super Bowl game to its next deal with the NFL.
ESPN joined Fox Sports and NBC Sports with some form of layoffs during pandemic times. CBS Sports has not announced a staff reduction due to economic recession.
Talks about ESPN’s layoffs have been rumored among industry insiders for months and could have gotten even worse if college football wasn’t played.
Last month, the Outkick website first reported on potential layoffs. Athletic said they could happen this week.
ESPN had about 6,000 employees by Thursday. In 2015 and 2017, ESPN laid off personnel impacting both internal and offline employees, leaving about 500 employees out of jobs.
Here are the full memos that Pitaro sent staff:
As you know, we value transparency in our internal conversations and that means both good times and tough times. After much consideration, I have some tough organizational decisions to share. We’ll be reducing our workforce, impacting around 300 valuable team members, in addition to 200 open positions.
Today was difficult because ESPN has always been – and always will be – strengthened by its wonderful people. Team spirit, dedication, spirit and courage have built this place and are what makes ESPN so special.
Before the pandemic, we were deeply involved in strategizing how to best position ESPN for future success amid a massive disruption in how fans consume receptors. sports. The pandemic’s significant impact on our business has clearly spurred forward-looking discussions. In the short term, we have enacted various steps such as reducing executive and talent salaries, reducing salaries and cutting budgets, and implementing innovative operations and production methods, all in order to overcome the COVID storm.
However, we have reached the inflection point. The ongoing pace of change demands great urgency, and we must now undertake sports fan service in countless new ways. Assigning resources to support a direct, digital, and of course creative TV experience is more important than ever.
However, building a successful future in a changing world means facing tough choices. Making informed decisions about how and where we need to go – and, as always, in the most efficient way possible – is by far the most challenging job of any leadership team. And, while it has to be done with a corporate lens, it must also be done with real respect and concern for everyone.
We will bid farewell to some special team members – some of whom have been here for a long time – and all of them have made important contributions to ESPN. We’re so grateful for all they did for us, and I assure you we are taking steps to make their transition easier.
I’m proud of the people at ESPN. Together, we have overcome great challenges and adversities over the past several months and know that the decisions and plans made today are by no means mild. However, they are necessary and I believe we will move forward and efficiently navigate this unprecedented disruption.
Our Human Resources and Communications Team will continue to keep you up to date with every update and you will hear more insight into our future direction over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you have questions about anything outlined in this note, please talk to your leadership team or HR Business Partner.