ESPN The World Wide Leader Decides To Layoff 100 Workers And Essentially Ending Hockey Coverage
ESPN will fire 100 staffers, most of them on-air talent, as the network works to make as much money as possible after seeing subscription numbers fall to an all-time low paired with right fees going to an all-time high. The focus for the company is now going towards digital content according to the network and that was the reasoning behind the layoffs.
ESPN president John Skipper made the announcement on Wednesday (April 26), noting that “changes” in the talent lineup will be implemented this week.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” wrote Skipper in a note to employees posted on the network’s web site. “Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands.”
“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” Skipper continued. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”
Skipper did not specifically identify staffers or the number of employees that will be let go. But longtime ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder tweeted this morning that he has been layed off.
“After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I’ve been informed that I’m being laid off by ESPN effective immediately,” Werder Tweeted. “I have no plans to retire.”
So did college basketball reporter Dana O’Neil; “Add me to the list. Just got the ‘call.’ I’ve been informed my contract will not be renewed at ESPN.” SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract is up this summer, also will be let go, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Other ESPN personalities are seeing their roles “significantly reduced,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. They include Baseball Tonight‘s Karl Ravitch, ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo and Hannah Storm. Kaylee Hartung, who covered college sports for the network for the past several years, will shift to CNN.
The biggest news out of all of this is their concerted effort to let go their “hockey” guys. Of the 100 layoffs Buccigross, Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside, and Joe McDonald, all four have been part of the networks hockey personality and reporter brigade. Now the only hockey reporter that seems to be left is Barry Melrose who admittedly is not a fan favorite.
ESPN messed up with rising expenses and not predicting their subscription numbers to take a hit. When they saw their numbers go down they scrambled and made an abundant of programming moves that essentially alienated their main viewership. If you tuned into a SportsCenter broadcast you could easily see why things have gone south with their centerpiece product no longer being recognizable.
Having part of your NFL right package including several NFL shows with little interest is also another way to go downhill quickly. Ultimately it was their rising rights deals that cooked this duck, goes to show that maybe one network shouldn’t have all of the rights to sports due to the fact that it is incredibly expensive.
In regards to their new digital content focus, I believe they have already been doing this for awhile, mostly a smoke and mirrors type of comment from Skipper. You could see an increase of that, but in reality, it will not help ESPN get into the black, laying off 100 staffers did that.
New names have come out in terms of firings and the list of good journalists grow. As of right now the names being added to the firing line are Trent Dilfer (NFL), Jayson Stark (MLB), and Jim Bowden (MLB). The later two are a big part of ESPN’s online article content and are considered to be some of the best baseball writers in the entire league.
Entire List Of Those Fired Or Non-Renewal (Might Have Missed A Few, Will Update As It Progresses):
- Trent Dilfer (NFL)
- Jim Bowden (MLB)
- Jayson Stark (MLB)
- John Buccigross (Not Confirmed Yet) (NHL and SC)
- Joe McDonald (NHL)
- Pierre LeBrun (NHL) *Continuing to work for TSN
- Karl Ravitch (MLB) *Reduced Role Is The Report
- Hannah Storm (SC)
- Ryen Russillo
- Kaylee Hartung
- Paul Kuharsky (Tennessee Titans)
- Ed Werder (Longtime NFL)
- Scott Burnside (NHL)
- Dana O’Neil (College Basketball)
- Brendan Fitzgerald (ESPN U)
- Mike Goodman (Soccer Writer)
- Austin Ward (Big Ten)
- Jesse Temple (Wisconsin Writer)
- Mark Saxon (Writer)
- Brett McMurphy (College Football Insider)
- Eamonn Brennan (College Basketball)
- Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPN Radio)
- Jeremy Crabtree (Senior Writer)
- Derek Tyson (SEC Analyst)
- Johnette Howard (Columnist)
- C.L. Brown (College Basketball)
- Danny Kanell (ESPN Radio)
- Dan Sharfin (Voice Over Talent)
- Max Olsen (College Football)
- Doug Padilla (Dodgers)
- Brian Bennett ( Big Ten)
- Jane McManus ( NFL)
- David Ching (College Football)
- Jarrett Bell (NFL Insider)
- Ted Miller (College Football Writer)
- Jay Crawford (SC)
- Ashley Fox (NFL Reporter/Analyst)
- Ethan Strauss (Writer)
- Calvin Watkins (NBA)
- Melisssa Isaccson (Writer)
- Len Elmore (College Hoops)
- Justin Verrier (Staff Writer)
- Robin Lundberg (ESPN Radio)
- Chantel Jennings (Writer)
- Rufus Peabody (Analytics Expert)
- Jaymee Sire (SC AM)
- Chris Hassell (Utility)