Disney’s ESPN Laid Off 100 Employees to Cut Costs
America’s biggest media conglomerate, Walt Disney Co, has laid off 100 workers from its ESPN channel, as the latter continues to drag down profits for Disney.
In its latest quarter, Disney reported a decline of 11% in its operating income from its cable networks division, compared to the same period last year. Most of this shortfall was caused by ESPN.
The country’s biggest sports channel, ESPN, has lost millions of subscribers in the recent quarters while, at the same time, its broadcasting costs have shot up.
The sports network has been spending billions of dollars on deal extensions with major sports leagues and associations, including a $15.2-billion deal with the NFL and a $12.0-billion deal with the NBA. However, the humongous investments have failed to translate into subscriber growth or better advertisement sales. (Source: Ibid.)
ESPN Subscribers Decline Due to Streaming
The latest data shows that ESPN has lost 3.8% of its subscribers this May alone, which is much higher than the industry median subscriber losses of 2.9%.
The latest layoffs are an outcome of the company’s efforts to cut costs. Most of the laid-off employees are famous media anchors and reporters. The layoffs are expected to save the company the millions of dollars that it pays to these media personalities.
Prominent names who faced job cuts include former NFL players Trent Dilfer and Danny Kanell, former NBA player Len Elmore, and famous NFL reporter Ed Werder.
The most shocking layoff, however, is of NFL commentator John Clayton, the oldest employee to be laid off, who worked 22 long years for the network.
ESPN’s demise is blamed on the rise of cheaper streaming services like “Netflix,” “Amazon Prime,” and “Hulu,” which are continuing to attract more Americans subscribers. As a result, many Americans are opting out of paying for cable TV channels like ESPN.
ESPN revealed that it has been working on launching its own streaming service, but no official launch date has been announced. (Source: The New York Times, op cit.)
According to Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, the layoffs weren’t a significant cut to ESPN’s workforce. The channel currently employs roughly 8,000 employees. Iger said that the announcement made a lot of headlines because the layoffs included some famous names in the media.
“ESPN Layoffs: The Struggling Industry Giant Sheds On-Air Talent,” The New York Times, April 26, 2017.
“ESPN keeps hemorrhaging subscribers,” New York Post, May 30, 2017.