ESPN to Cut 500 Positions to Free Up Money for New TV Ventures

ESPN’s chief said the Disney sports-media division would eliminate 500 positions – 300 employees and 200 posts that are currently unfilled – in a bid to free up resources for streaming, digital and other kinds of video experiences designed for the new ways fans are engaging with sports.

ESPN has already made cuts in recent years as traditional ratings and subscriber numbers have fallen, noted ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro in a memo to employees issued Thursday.  “We have, however, reached an inflection point,” he said. “The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways.  Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”

The New York Post previously reported on Pitaro’s memo.

The cuts are the latest sign of how ESPN, once one of Disney’s most stable assets, is working to recalibrate its operations as consumers abandon traditional ways of watching TV in favor of streaming video and mobile devices. ESPN has thrived for decades on the outsize fees it gets from cable and satellite distributors who carry its suite of sports networks. But as more fans cut their tether to traditional TV, its linear networks are starting to shed subscribers. Even as that happens, the rights fees ESPN must pay to broadcast NFL games, NBA matches and MLB showdowns are steadily rising, and many analysts expect the NFL to seek a significant price hike in its current efforts to renew carriage deals with many of the major networks, including ESPN.


More to come…

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