For the past couple of months, it’s been reported that Disney has ordered ESPN to cut significant dollars from its budget, as the cord-cutting trend has cost the network millions of subscribers. The figures mentioned for cuts have been $100 million from next year’s expenses and $200 million from ESPN’s overall budget by 2017.
Thus far, ESPN president John Skipper has trimmed the company’s payroll by cutting loose high-priced talent such as Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd (with Jason Whitlock reportedly soon to follow). But eventually, the cuts had to go deeper and it appears that fateful time has arrived.
According to The Big Lead‘s Jason McIntyre, multiple sources have informed him that ESPN will be laying off hundreds of employees in the months to come. The number quoted to McIntyre was “200 to 300,” and represent the first layoffs the network has had to implement since 2013.
“ESPN has historically embraced evolving technology to smartly navigate our business,” an ESPN spokesperson told The Big Lead. “Any organizational changes will be announced directly to our employees if and when appropriate.”
In addition to the layoffs, ESPN will also make changes to its midday programming, presumably in a further effort to reduce costs. The 1 to 3 p.m. edition of SportsCenter will be reduced to one hour, while the 3 to 6 p.m. edition will be cut and replaced by an anchor providing live updates on breaking news during network programming.
“We have already begun a series of strategic enhancements, including SportsCenter on the Road, the launch of Scott Van Pelt’s show, additional live hours on weekend mornings and, starting in February, live shows from 7 to 9 a.m. ET,” ESPN said in a separate statement issued to The Big Lead. “SportsCenter will present regular live updates on TV from 1:30 to 6 p.m. each weekday, and will be in position to break into network coverage when news developments warrant.”
The statement also indicated that production and on-air staff from the midday SportsCenter will instead devote resources to creating programming for digital and social platforms.