There have been plenty of media cuts and shakeups in recent months, especially around the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but Fox Sports says their latest wave of cuts isn’t about that. As John Ourand reported at Sports Business Journal Monday night, Fox has parted ways with about 20 staffers and made significant programming changes, including cancelling FS1 studio shows WWE Backstage (which launched with plenty of hype last fall, especially after CM Punk joined as a special contributor, but didn’t produce what Fox hoped for in the ratings) and Inside PBC. (WWE Backstage still exists as a potential property around special events, but PWInsider’s Mike Johnson added that there are no current plans for it.) Here’s more from Ourand’s piece:
The job losses at Fox are a result of programming changes from poorly rated studio shows on boxing, WWE and soccer.
…Around 20 FS1 producers and talent lost their jobs today. Fox: “Today, we announced programming changes designed to better address the needs of our business. As a result, some positions in our production department have been eliminated.”
…FS1 canceled the “Inside PBC” studio show that it produced around its Premier Boxing Champions matches. The cable network will continue to produce studio shows for PPV boxing events. The soccer cuts come as Fox winds down its Bundesliga contract.
Ryan Satin, one of the impacted employees (he was a WWE Backstage news correspondent), discussed this on Twitter Monday:
Thanks to everyone at @FS1 for the opportunity to work on #WWEBackstage! I had a blast working with @ReneeYoungWWE, @BookerT5x, @RealPaigeWWE, @jacobu, @grossman, @bradweimer and every single person I came into contact with on the show. I learned a lot working with you all. https://t.co/iLnYF0jGyj
— Ryan Satin (@ryansatin) June 22, 2020
And Booker T (another impacted personality) discussed it on his Hall of Fame podcast with Brad Gilmore:
A key quote there, via Andrew Ravens of wrestlingnews.co:
“WWE Backstage, today, we got the news that we’re not going to be shooting a weekly series, not right now anyway. I want to thank everybody on the FOX family crew and making it work for eight months, it was an awesome eight months. Hopefully, the project will be a little different and going to do something digital. We don’t know just yet, we’re just waiting right now.”
On the soccer front, Jonathan Tannenwald of The Philadelphia Inquirer relayed that one of the cuts is lead soccer producer Shaw Brown:
Shaw has a personal Twitter feed that is locked. He posted the following statement there and allowed me to share it publicly: pic.twitter.com/qrWQM44sOz
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) June 22, 2020
It’s certainly interesting to see Fox making these kinds of changes now, and to see them saying they’re to “better address the needs of our business.” And while the likes of WWE Backstage and Inside PBC Boxing may not have performed all that well in the ratings, they haven’t yet announced what will replace those shows. We’ll see what they wind up going with and how it does.