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Layoffs Hit ESPN On-Air Personalities and Staff

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Photo: AP

At least 100 staff members, many who were on-air talent, have been laid off by ESPN in response to the network’s falling subscription revenue and increased television rights fees.

ESPN president John Skipper released a statement Wednesday saying the network was “focused on a strategic vision” to propel the network and its services into the future.

“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” Skipper said. “Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble. 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.  We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week.  A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.”

Without providing specific details of the layoffs, Skipper acknowledged the cuts would impact “talented people” at the network. Among those laid off were college basketball reporter Andy Katz, auto racing and college football commentator Jerry Punch, college basketball analyst Len Elmore, SportsCenter anchor Jay Crawford, MLB writer Jayson Stark, and veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder.

News and entertainment website Deadspin is collecting a list of ESPN staffers who have been let go this week online here.

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” Skipper’s statement read. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”

In addition to Wednesday’s layoffs, still other personalities will likely see their roles at the network reduced. An article from The Hollywood Reporter listed Baseball Tonight’s Karl Ravetch and multi-show personality Hannah Storm as two whose roles would be reduced.

This is not the first time ESPN has eliminated a significant amount of employees. In 2015, the network eliminated 300 jobs and in 2013 it laid off a reported 400 employees.

By Eric Mann

Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. Reach him at emann@ussa.edu

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