It makes sense that amongst the 7,000 planned cuts coming to Disney (announced by once and current CEO Bob Iger in February), there would be some at ESPN. Those are part of the waves of layoffs happening across the tech and media sectors at the moment, and with ESPN now one of three primary Disney divisions, it absolutely was likely to be impacted by any cutbacks. But Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy has some further confirmation that there will be specific cuts at ESPN (although not much in the way of details), and some of that confirmation comes from ESPN’s own Stephen A. Smith on his Cadence13/Audacy Know Mercy podcast:
— Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) March 20, 2023
Here’s more from McCarthy’s piece:
ESPN is bracing for painful layoffs in the coming weeks, sources tell Front Office Sports.
As part of a corporate restructuring, parent Disney is slashing 7,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in costs. The layoffs could amount to 3% of Disney’s global workforce.
Stephen A. Smith alluded to the network’s precarious situation on his “K[no]w Mercy” podcast.
“Have you all been paying attention to the business landscape? Disney itself announced that over 7,000 employees are going to be let go,” Smith said. “ESPN is under the Disney umbrella. They’re going to have cuts coming.
“Hell, for all I know, I might be one of them. Now I doubt that. But it’s possible. No one knows.”
That’s presumably on the latest episode of Know Mercy, released Monday. That episode largely focuses on Smith (seen above on NBA Countdown in February) talking to NewsNation host Chris Cuomo on the ongoing legal situation involving former U.S. president Donald Trump. But those particular quotes from Smith on ESPN layoffs are interesting. And this is just the latest round of layoffs for ESPN; as McCarthy notes,
Yes, there’s little chance ESPN lays Smith off (despite his reported compensation of around $12 million a year), considering their investment in his brand of debate and in making him the main face of the network. And his “my contract is guaranteed” talk may suggest it may not be easy for them to get out of it even if they wanted to. But it’s interesting to hear Smith confirming that ESPN is “going to have cuts coming” (and to see him doing so on his podcast at another outlet), and to see him even expressing a little uncertainty about his own future.