A look at Digital Center 2 on the ESPN Bristol, CT campus in June 2020. (Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images) Bristol, CT – June 10, 2020 – DC2: Side view of Digital Center 2 during the 2020 MLB Draft. (Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

It’s been known for months that ESPN layoffs were coming as part of a wider announced cut of 7,000 employees across Disney announced by CEO Bob Iger in February, but they’ve now started to take effect. Multiple reports Monday indicated that the layoffs have started, with the first round (of an expected three) anticipated to run through Wednesday.

As Marchand’s story there notes, this first wave of layoffs is anticipated to last through Wednesday, and is not expected to involve on-air talent. Ourand adds that there’s expected to be another wave by this summer, also not covering on-air talent, and then a wave affecting on-air talent after that.

While having these first waves focus on those not appearing on air means the names here won’t be as known to the wider public, these layoffs are still going to have a major impact on ESPN’s operations, and they seem likely to include some people in significant positions. One of those names that’s emerged so far is long-time ESPN figure Mike Soltys, who was currently their vice president of corporate communications, and who was in his 43rd year with the company (making him their third-longest tenured employee). Soltys tweeted about that, and he also received some notable recognition from reporters covering the story:

As for more on the overall layoffs, here are some further details from Marchand’s New York Post piece:

The layoffs are happening in three rounds for several reasons.

When Iger reorganized Disney upon his recent return, he made changes that gave the leaders of the company’s divisions, including ESPN, more power.

…The other goal of the reorganization was to also figure out how to avoid redundancy.

ESPN was already leaner than other divisions of Disney because of past layoffs.

This is one of the reasons that ESPN cuts are not coming just at one time.

The exact number that are being let go on this turn is still undetermined.

There have been many past rounds of ESPN layoffs, including ones in December 2020 and December 2017 that specifically targeted people other than on-air talent. By contrast, the massive April 2017 layoffs focused mostly on front-facing talent, both on-air and online. It’s unclear how many people at ESPN will be hit this time around; as Marchand notes, the past layoffs there mean they may be hit less than Disney overall, where the 7,000 anticipated cuts represent about three percent of the company’s global workforce. (It should be noted that ESPN has a lot of international employees as well, and that differing layoff notice requirements by country are part of why this is a drawn-out process.)

But there are still going to be big impacts here from these moves, with Marchand also writing that some people may have to take pay cuts to stay or may not have their contracts renewed, and that on-air talents making $2 to 5 million annually may particularly “feel a squeeze” when it comes to that part of this. This is part of a wider wave of recent cuts and layoffs across media and tech companies, but it’s definitely notable to see ESPN hit by layoffs again. And we’ll see who else winds up being affected in this first round, and if details emerge on how many people are let go here.

[Sports Business Journal, The New York Post; top photo of ESPN’s Digital Center 2 on its Bristol, CT campus in 2020 from Allen Kee/ESPN Images]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.