Report: ESPN's next round of layoffs is going to include on-air personalities

More layoffs are coming to ESPN, according to a report on Monday from Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.

In October 2015, ESPN laid off north of 300 employees, mostly behind the scenes people. Now, Deitsch reports that layoffs will come to “talent” — ESPN parlance for writers and on-air personalities.

From SI:

“SI has learned that ESPN will have significant cost-cutting over the next four months on its talent side (people in front of the camera or audio/digital screen). Multiple sources said ESPN has been tasked with paring tens of millions of staff salary from its payroll, including staffers many viewers and readers will recognise. Those with contracts coming up would be particularly vulnerable, sources said.”

Deitsch also reports that some contracts will be bought out:

“The company is also expected to buyout some existing contracts, which is something rare for ESPN historically beyond a few NFL talents. The cuts are expected to be completed by June. Sources within ESPN say that there is no set list of names yet and stressed that behind-the-scenes people will likely (key word) not be impacted by these cuts.”

Last month, Disney, ESPN’s parent company, reported a lower-than-expected revenue during its fourth quarter, in part because of a drop in ad revenue from ESPN. ESPN also continues to lose subscribers at an alarming rate.

Between skyrocketing rights fees (ESPN pays north of $US4 billion for the NFL and NBA alone), and the continual loss of subscribers (mostly as a result of cord-cutting), ESPN is losing close to a billion dollars per year. The company needs to trim the fat, and as Deadspin notes, dumping some salaries is one clear way to do that.

“We have long been about serving fans and innovating to create the best content for them,” ESPN said in a statement. “Today’s fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do. Inevitably that has consequences for how we utilise our talent. We are confident that ESPN will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports.”

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