Another round of layoffs is set to cut about $80 million in salary and benefits from ESPN’s budget, sources say. The newest layoffs come after over 100 employees were let go in April.
News broke three weeks ago that more layoffs were expected to hit the 38-year-old cable sports network sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday. But, new reports say that as many as 100 more employees will be cut, mirroring the number released in April.
According to Sporting News, there is a sense of dread among the network’s employees with many assuming “it’s not if, but when” they are laid off.
The industry is most especially wondering if SportsCenter Jemele Hill will be given her walking papers.
ESPN’s SportsCenter, a particular target for cuts according to Sports Illustrated, has been at the center of controversy for months after Hill repeatedly violated the network’s social media policy, in one case calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.” After a second violation, where Hill essentially used her Twitter account to teach people the benefits of boycotting the Dallas Cowboys advertisers, ESPN suspended Hill for two weeks.
The continued layoffs should come as no surprise. The network has steadily lost ground and profitability, losing over 10,000 subscribers a month while forced to pay billions in broadcast fees levied by the various national leagues. ESPN also has reportedly lost more than 13 million subscribers over the last five years.
According to Sporting News, ESPN lost $1 billion in affiliate revenues after losing those 13 million subscribers since 2010.
The network also reportedly made salary package deals with employees to prevent them from quitting to go to work for rivals such as Fox Sports 1. Some of those deals included a promise to pay employee salaries until they begin a new job, even if they are laid off at ESPN.
As noted, the network instituted mass layoffs in April, but back in 2015, over 300 were jobs were cut.