As the sports media industry braces for another round of layoffs at ESPN, it has become a bit more clear who in Bristol will be most affected by the cuts.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported Tuesday that the layoffs “will be concentrated on behind-the-scenes people/positions in multiple depts,” with few on-air personalities losing their jobs.
One update on ESPN layoffs: Hearing the job losses for this round will be concentrated on behind-the-scenes people/positions in multiple depts. Not many front-facing (on-air) names expected, if any. Having been through too many at Time Inc, it all sucks.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) November 28, 2017
Deitsch reported earlier this month that the layoffs will hit about 100 ESPN employees both on-air and behind the scenes and that “SportsCenter” will be particularly hard hit. Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy later reported that the cuts, which are expected to be announced any day now, will save ESPN about $80 million in salaries and other costs.
In April, ESPN laid off about 100 front-facing personalities as part of a highly covered and highly argued-about purge. Before that, the network laid off 300-350 mostly behind-the-scenes employees in 2015.
Until we get a clearer sense of which employees ESPN has sent packing, it’s difficult to say exactly what the network hopes to accomplish with this round of layoffs. Maybe the idea is to cut across the board. Maybe, as Deitsch previously reported, the plan is to reduce the SportsCenter staff as the show becomes less integral to ESPN’s content strategy. Or maybe, ESPN just figured it had too many producers sitting around. With the layoffs expected to come down between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’re probably only days away from finding out for sure.
If the layoffs do indeed hit employees behind the scenes harder than those in front of the camera, the cuts will receive less attention and spark less opinionated commentary than the April round, but they will, of course, be no less devastating for the people affected. ESPN is a dream job not only for SportsCenter anchors but also for various producers and sound guys and production assistants. and it truly sucks that some of them will be out of work.