Sports network ESPN is planning a massive layoff where the company, owned by Disney, will be laying off 300 employees and not filling 200 open positions.
The cost-cutting measure was necessitated by changes to the industry that have been accelerated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch released, via Twitter, the employee letter sent to staff earlier today.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) November 5, 2020
Meanwhile, Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, released a written statement earlier today.
“For some time, ESPN has been engaged in planning for its future amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports. The pandemic’s effect on ESPN clearly accelerated our thinking on all fronts. Today, as a result of these circumstances, we informed our employees that we have made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce to create a more agile, efficient organization.
“We are parting ways with many exceptional teammates, all of whom have made important contributions to ESPN. These are not easy decisions, and we will work hard to make their transitions easier.
“We will move forward in a manner that will allow us to continue to best serve sports fans.”
According to reporting by Variety, Ben Bogardus, an assistant professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University said, “The pandemic forced ESPN to find new ways to cover sports and news that turned out to be cheaper and require fewer crews to do the job. Pre-pandemic, a crew was often sent to people’s homes, or guests were flown into Bristol for live interviews. But now, those same interviews can be done for free using Skype or Zoom. Similarly, play-by-play and color commentary during games doesn’t have to be done with a full remote crew from the stadium. It can be done from ESPN’s headquarters, saving money on travel and production.”