Six months after laying off about 100 front-facing employees in an unprecedented purge, ESPN could be headed for yet another ugly round of cuts, according to Sporting News’ Mike McCarthy.

McCarthy reports that the layoffs could come before the end of the year and will affect employees both in front of and behind the camera.

The next round of cutbacks could come down in late November or early December, with 40-60 positions potentially being impacted, according to sources. The layoffs could hit both on-air TV/radio talent and behind-the-scenes production staffers.  

“This time it won’t matter if you’re ‘liked’ or not. It’s not going to be pretty,” one source warned. 

Another source expects the flagship “SportsCenter” franchise to lose people in front of and behind the camera. “I see (ESPN) going down a path where they have less staff — and hire more production companies to provide programs and fill air time.”

At this point, it’s probably best to view this report with caution, considering we don’t know who leaked the news or why. Presumably only a handful of top executives in Bristol would be privy to these kinds of plans, and it’s hard to figure why they would warn the world so far in advance.

Still, the prospect of more layoffs at ESPN is somewhat terrifying for an industry reeling from layoffs at — deep breath — Bleacher ReportSIYahooFox SportsVocativMTVMicVice and FanRag. For ESPN to let go of so many employees, then bring in a crew of new personalities, from Adrian Wojnarowski to Katie Nolan, and then let go of more employees would seem especially brutal.

ESPN, like most cable networks, has struggled with a diminished subscriber base that results largely from cord-cutting. Saddled with expensive rights deals and seven-figure commitments to TV personalities, the network is no longer thriving financially the way it has for most of its history. April’s round of layoffs showed that no one is safe at ESPN anymore, and the Sporting News’ report Thursday ensures that everyone in Bristol will be holding their breath for the foreseeable future.

[Sporting News]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Christopher Bates

    Gotta feel like those in danger include Ryen Russillo (who almost got cut the last time, and that was before he got himself involved in drunken trespassing), Jemele Hill/Michael Smith (SC 6 doesn’t seem to be working out, and that’s before the recent controversies), some of the baseball guys (Schoenfeld? Kurkjian?), and anyone involved with hockey.

    • PAI

      I’m Tim Kurkjian, please spare some change…

  • ua2

    fire them all, replace with holograms

    • Shawn Rychling

      Honestly, they could automate it with robots showing me highlights and scores. I almost NEVER watch and stumbled on the late SC (from L.A.) last night. The anchors made it UNWATCHABLE!

      • The older guy with glasses that does the late night show is awful. I fell asleep once watching MNF and woke to the late night Sportscenter. This guy is yelling something about a bartender so loud that it woke me out of a sleep.

  • Real Talk

    Steven A should start looking for a new gig

  • sportsfan365

    Anyone who writes should be worried, as every sports site is intent on going video only.

    • PAI

      With none of them learning the cause and effect of significant drop-offs in page hits after.

  • Jeremy W

    here is who i wouild fire
    Hill
    Smith
    Spain
    Russillo
    e ducan
    cohn
    mayne
    melrose
    levy
    every baseball guy
    steven a
    nichols
    Ley
    everyone on sportsnation ex wiley
    wilbon
    kerney
    s young

    • Hockey is king

      Hill especially.

      • Jeremy W

        well if u get rid of just hill and smith the SJW will go into overdrive

        • Hockey is king

          Oh, I honestly hope they keep them. I haven’t watched ESPN in well over 1 year. I stumbled upon this because I read Clay Travis’ tweet about it. I hope ESPN goes out and adds Shaun King and Jesse Jackson to their roster. It’s fun reading about how much money they keep losing.

    • DrewShervin

      Spain is married to a billionaire real estate developer. If she didn’t have huge natural breasts she wouldn’t even have a job. She had no problem showing them off in Chicago as she was working her way up the ladder.

    • Dale Moog

      You can not cut EVERY Baseball guy they do carry EVERY game of the playoffs all of All Star week and EVERY Sunday Night game on radio. plus they have games on TV Monday Wednesday and Sunday during the season. What are they just going to pay MLB network to produce the games for them? I agree Stephen A, and Mike Smith, E Duncan, Champion, Russillo, Nichols and Mayne are easy outs. Levy is a good play by play guy he can do CFB, MLB, and what ever hockey they have left (I think they still carry the frozen four)

    • Shawn Diiorio

      Please learn how grammar works.

  • Hockey is king

    Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Michael Smith should just take the inevitable leap and broadcast from the black panther headquarters. You can also add Kevin Blackistone. 96% of their dialogue is about them being black.

    • Deon Hamner

      Thank you for your racist rant… And the idiots who liked it…

    • Eddd Boggs

      Maybe you could take the inevitable step and broadcast from your mom’s basement. Or better yet, just STFU!

    • Hill’s views aside, she’s just not entertaining or at least shouldn’t be working one of the prime slots on ESPN. If you’re working that 6pm slot, I shouldn’t be hearing “ummm..”, “well….”, and more “ummmm….” in every other sentence, like she’s stalling to put her thoughts together.

  • SternsWig

    Don’t worry Alex because Katie Superstar Nolan will last until 2019

    • Jeremy W

      i would tell Nolan host SN or u are gone

  • Sting Rey

    similar to curt schilling. now is not the time to be ruffling any feathers.

  • Jeremy W

    i would parter with MLB Network NHL network for Quick Pitch and NHL network on the fly
    cut SC to 30 min
    get out of the NBA contact next time its up haveing NBA Gametime
    and leave the NFL as well after 2021 airing good morning football from 10am est to noon
    and go to a espn Classic type

    my espn sch
    6am est greenburg in the morn
    10am est good morning football
    noon 8 pm est old sports games
    8 pm est 1 am est SC
    1 am to 6am repetes of mlb tonight on the fly quick pitch an nba gametime

    espn 2
    6 am to 10 am SC
    10 am to noon first take
    noon midnight combo of old games sc sn pti
    midnight 6 am sc

    • Jericohol14

      Yeah, great way to make money there. Ditch ALL live sports and show the highlights past 1 AM. 🙄

      • Deon Hamner

        Thank you Jericohol14….

    • Shawn Diiorio

      Partnering with other networks will cost ESPN more money than the cuts will save.

      The cuts will not be that drastic, they are not gutting ESPN with a hacksaw, you have to look like you are owned by Disney, it looks bad for Disney to turn ESPN into a bare bones network. ESPN won’t look too different, they will just get rid of the stuff that is expendable and not really need that much.

  • Jeff Hammon

    Remember the good ol’ days when ‘The George Michael Sports Machine’ kept us current 😉

    • Sting Rey

      back when sports was about sports and not the broadcaster. he wasnt the star of the show. the highlights were.

  • notfunny2u

    While on the topic of ESPN and financial struggles, I have a conspiracy theory that they have pushed the Colin Kaepernick story (and all it’s attendant “conversation”), the “Thursday night games suck” narrative, and an overall negative tone about the sport with the goal of punishing the NFL for charging it so much for it’s rights package. If they can help drive down the ratings in anyway it’ll give them leverage in negotiating or renegotiating their contract. According to the NYT, ESPN pays FAR MORE than every other network (for a very different package, albeit). I could easily see this scenario…or at least it’s fun to think about.

    • Sting Rey

      this has been why they over cover the nfl. they have such a large financial stake in them. every nfl story is blown out of proportion.
      ie. tom brady vacation plans are treated as earht shattering news.

  • BobLee Says

    When will “Skippy’s” name show up on a pink slip? It’s easier to fire the manager than the players. His performances under pressure the past several years have been woeful. Skipper makes Art Briles (Baylor) appear “in charge” by comparison.

    • Shawn Rychling

      Having worked in media for years I marvel at this. With the exception of local TV news directors the people charged with coming up with strategies to improve ratings, content, and circulation/subscriber base almost never face the music at pink slip time Sad, really.

    • Christopher Bates

      Your obsession with John Skipper is, frankly, a little creepy. Are you gay for him or something?

      • BobLee Says

        No Mr. Bates. I’m not gay. But, as always, your concern for my well-being is appreciated… and, also a little creepy.

        • Christopher Bates

          Boy, you sure turned that one around on me! You’re a clever one, aren’t you?

          • BobLee Says

            You’re too kind, Mr. Bates. I’m just a wise guy. You’re a Grandmaster Troll. I’m way out of my league jousting with you, sir.

          • Christopher Bates

            Wow, a comment about crossing weapons with me. In other words, even more gay subtext. You do understand that it’s ok to be out of the closet in the 21st century, right?

  • James Johnson

    I wonder what Clay Travis has to say on the subject.

  • inku palios

    ESPN will probably fire the fringe employees, like Chris Mortenson, & maybe Elle Duncan. Don’t expect to see people like Jemele Hill or Stephen A Smith on the list

    • no way they dump Mortensen. He’s fighting stage 4 cancer. Could you imagine the backlash from that?

  • kittallmadge

    Please rid us of Dick Vitale

    • John Sutton

      I agree 82,000%. His shtick is ancient and boring. He’s almost as bad as Bill Walton – the king of the mountain of terrible commentators.

  • Icahnoclast

    The delusional McCarthy also reported that one of the reasons for falling NFL attendance and ratings was fans who were angry about the fact that Kaepernick was not signed. Really?

    Then, in the ‘more ESPN layoffs to come’ column he refers to the network’s ‘alleged left-wing politics.’ Alleged? The only reporters left at ESPN are ball-bearing girls trying to establish their Left-Fem cred and emasculated girly-men parroting the girls’ political nonsense so they can occasionally get laid.

  • comfort woodstock

    The liberals will cry

  • DrewShervin

    They are coming for you Beadle, finally.

  • MrBeepo

    Keep in mind that the destined to fail miserably Mike Greenberg is pulling down 6.5 million a year.

  • JWJ

    ESPN has around 8,000 employees worldwide. How does cutting 40-60 impact their costs in any type of meaningful amount? At most, it is around $8M to $15M

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  • smack_libs_around

    There’s a lot of glee at this prospect, and no one will have more blood on their hands for it than Jem’quel Hill. Happily, she’ll get blamed for the audience (and revenue) falloff as her Teflon privilege affords her to say what she wants with minimal repercussions.

  • John Sutton

    As a 74 yr old widower the old ESPN lineup sort of (bit of a stretch) replaced discussing sports with friends around the watercooler. But under the control of the Disney idiots the focus changed from sports to social commentary – the very thing most sports fans were trying to get away from. We don’t need any more CNNs, MSNBCs or other anti-American networks.