ESPN will lay off more than 100 employees later this month, according to a Thursday report in Sports Illustrated. The layoffs will affect a wide range of staffers, from on-camera personalities to employees in the technology department, but SportsCenter will be the hardest hit, SI reports.
This isn’t the first time the network has had to lay off hundreds of employees.
Though hiring has continued and the network remains one of the great destinations for jobs in sports media, ESPN has experienced significant layoffs over the last two years. In Oct. 2015 the company laid off roughly 300 employees, about 4-5% of its workforce—a particularly brutal act of gutting given the long tenures of many of those who were cut. Many of those employees helped build the foundation of ESPN and had given their professional life to the company. (Sports Illustrated)
When the company laid off approximately 100 journalists and tv-personalities last April, ESPN said it was “a necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions.”
The terminations come as the network faces changing consumer habits combined with increased costs associated with sports rights. According to SI, “the network has dropped in households from 100.13 million in 2011 to an estimated 87.5 million households today.”
Beyond these changes, the network has continued to face criticism for some of its anchors’ political comments, including SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill, who called President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter and later suggested boycotting advertisers of the Dallas Cowboys. She faced minimal repercussions as a result—the former only got a warning from the network while the latter a two-week suspension, but it was reportedly with pay. Whether she will be among the staffers laid off this month remains to be seen.