Back in June, Fox Sports laid off around 20 people involved in WWE, boxing and soccer coverage. Now, just over a month later, they’ve laid off an additional group of staffers. Joe Flint of The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the latest cuts involve “more than 50 staffers,” and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal added a statement from Fox about how this is an attempt to “streamline” their sports business:
Fox Sports statement: “As part of Fox Sports’ commitment to become a more efficient organization, we are taking steps to streamline our business. As a result, today we announced the restructuring of several positions.” https://t.co/9e1sQLdftA
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 24, 2020
The logic of a smaller division “after sale of Fox RSNs” is curious, as that Fox-Disney deal for the sale of the RSNs and many more Fox assets was struck in December 2017, became all but official the next summer, and then became official in March 2019. Fox hasn’t operated the RSNs since then. (Disney eventually sold the RSNs minus YES to Sinclair in May 2019 as part of a deal with the Justice Department to allow the rest of the Disney-Fox sale to go through, and they sold YES back to the Yankees in March 2019.) So if the RSN sale is really what this “restructuring” and “streamlining” is about, it took Fox 16 months from the official finalization of the Disney-Fox deal to make it happen (and that deal had been officially planned for 15 months at that point, and in the works for even longer than that).
Of course, every media organization is currently facing revenue challenges thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, and many have been making cuts around that. And while Flint’s source says these layoffs aren’t related to the pandemic, the underlying issues there may have added some further urgency for Fox Sports to “become a more efficient organization.” And Fox has been making some cuts for years, parting ways with a number of TV staffers in 2016 and with writers and others in 2017 as part of an ill-fated “pivot to video” (which they’ve recently undone). So this is a further slimming-down still of their sports side.
[Joe Flint on Twitter]