ESPN Layoffs Loom: 300 Jobs May Be on Chopping Block

Nick Caito/ESPN Images

Insiders insist that any cuts will be the result of shifting business priorities, rather than downsizing in the face of subscriber losses.

ESPN is contemplating a round of layoffs, say multiple sources. The pink slips could come in the next few weeks and claim as many as 300 jobs at the 7,000-person company.

Insiders insist that any cuts will be the result of shifting business priorities, rather than downsizing in the face of subscriber losses or slowed growth at the multibillion-dollar company. ESPN would not confirm an impending round of cuts, but in a statement the network noted that it "has historically embraced evolving technology to smartly navigate our business. Any organizational changes will be announced directly to our employees if and when appropriate."

ESPN president John Skipper, whose contract was recently extended through 2018, has made some highly public changes already; letting go of Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd. ESPN executives tried to keep Cowherd, who ultimately took a job at Fox Sports and moved to Los Angeles.

Around the same time, the network walked back an announced plan to move its morning radio show Mike & Mike from the network's Bristol, Connecticut campus to New York. The show was to be broadcast from the Times Square studios that house ABC's Good Morning America, the same studio where ESPN2's Olbermann originated. The move was scrapped after being deemed too costly, say sources.

Next month, the network is expected to make changes to the weekday afternoon iterations of SportsCenter, eliminating the live show from 3-6 p.m., but having an anchor in place for live updates as breaking news warrants. 

Executives have been experimenting with the flagship franchise for several months. Scott Van Pelt — who last spring signed a multi-year contract extension — on Sept. 7, launched a midnight edition of SportsCenter that hews more closely to a sports talk format, rather than the obligatory scores and highlights model viewers have come to expect.

Last summer, the franchise went on location for a series of six SportsCenter on the Road editions, including to the Spokane Hoopfest and Coney Island's Hot Dog Eating Contest. In February, the network will launch live hours of SportsCenter from 7-9 a.m.

In a statement, an ESPN spokesperson noted the aforementioned changes and added "the afternoon SportsCenter group will produce unique new content for all digital and social platforms. Existing resources will be allocated among these and other initiatives."

News of layoffs was first reported by The Big Lead.

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