A string of job cuts has hit NBC Sports Chicago this week as the company succumbs to significant “cord-cutting” pressures. Like all major cable TV channels, NBC’s sports network is also losing its subscribers to online streamers. The latest NBC Sports Chicago layoffs reportedly affect 12 employees, including some senior behind-the-camera positions.
Revenue Pressures Result in NBC Sports Chicago Layoffs
About a dozen employees have lost their jobs at NBC Sports Chicago this week, as the sports channel says it is “resetting its business goals.”
While no prominent on-camera TV personality has been affected in the job cuts, some important behind-the-camera staff has been laid off.
Included in the affected employees are a senior executive producer, two senior web editors, a digital director, and a digital sales executive, as well as an associate producer, photographer, and director. The most notable of these laid-off employees, however, is Dan Hayes, the Chicago White Sox writer, who broke the news of his job loss on Twitter:
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) November 13, 2017
Hayes said he was surely in “shock” to hear that he was being let go, but he wasn’t “surprised” because the industry has been shedding many talented people in the past decade.
There is absolute truth in his statement. In fact, the sports media industry has particularly lost a number of prominent names this year, all owing to cord-cutting.
Cord-Cutting Putting Revenue Pressures on Several Cable Channels
A growing number of Americans are forgoing subscription-based cable TV in favor of on-demand entertainment, a phenomenon dubbed “cord-cutting.” Leading this trend are the young Millennials who are preferring to watch TV on the go. Their preferred entertainment sources are online streaming services, the most popular being the ones provided by Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Hulu, and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). These young Americans are no longer paying for expensive cable TV channels, instead opting for cheaper, on-demand streaming services.
A quick look at the cord-cutting statistics reveals the gloomy side of the glamorous television industry. This year alone, an estimated 22.2-million Americans are expected to cut the cord on cable or satellite TV networks. The estimated numbers are up 33% from a year ago.
The cord-cutting trend is beginning to threaten cable TV networks who are fast losing their subscribers to these online streamers. Advertisers are likewise gradually shifting away from TV channels to competing digital avenues for a wider audience reach.
Consequently, TV channels are facing severe downward pressure on their revenues and are now undertaking cost-cutting measures to thwart these pressures. Job cuts are turning out to be a widely used cost-saving measure across the industry. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago layoffs pale in comparison to the other major cable network layoffs we’ve witnessed this year.
Take the example of America’s biggest sports network, ESPN, which has cut roughly 150 jobs this year. The majority of these layoffs have included famous on-camera personalities, including popular former NFL and NBA stars and TV hosts.
ESPN has lost nearly 13-million subscribers in the past six years to cord-cutting and the drop in its subscriber-base is continuing.
Likewise, ESPN owner Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) also cut nearly 200 jobs at its ABC television network this year. The Disney-ABC layoffs affected a number of its channels other than ABC, including Freeform, Disney Channel, and Disney Junior.
Prior NBC Sports Chicago Layoffs in 2016
The NBC Sports Chicago layoffs are likewise attributable to the industry headwinds, which are forming at the digital end of the media industry and heading straight for the cable TV networks.
These latest layoffs are the second of their kind that the sports channel has seen since its inception in 2004.
Just last year, the channel—which was formerly called Comcast SportsNet Chicago—cut about the same number of positions in the nearly the same job functions. Only recently, renowned on-camera host and reporter Chris Boden was also let go by the network.
With the cord-cutting trend continuing to strengthen in favor of online streamers, the odds of additional NBC layoffs in 2017 seem significantly high.
“Cord-Cutting Explodes: 22 Million U.S. Adults Will Have Canceled Cable, Satellite TV by End of 2017,” Variety, September 13, 2017.
“Layoffs hit NBC Sports Chicago,” Robert Feder web site, November 13, 2017.