Ending months of speculation, cable sports giant ESPN said Wednesday that it will layoff a number of workers in an effort to streamline operations and increase efficiencies.
ESPN had been rumored for months to be sharpening its axe to reduce the workforce. Numbers that had been bandied about in previous reports ranged from about 200 to 300 people. While ESPN did not confirm the number of people who will lose their jobs, people familiar with the company said about 300 employees, out of the 8,000 that work for the sports network, will be affected. In addition, thoses sources said the company also is trying to match up employees with abilities that can be tied to future products – say those with IP skills – who would then be placed in other positions. On the affiliate side, different groups could be consolidated into an integrated unit and the people getting cut will receive notification in the next few days.
In a memo to ESPN employees Wednesday, ESPN president and co-chairman Disney Media Networks John Skipper said that every effort will be made to make the transition more palpable for those affected.
“Beginning today, we will be enacting a number of organizational changes at ESPN to better support our future goals – a process that will include the elimination of a number of positions, impacting friends and colleagues across the organization,” Skipper said in the memo. “We carefully considered and deliberated alternatives before making each decision. The people who will be leaving us have been part of ESPN’s success, and they have our respect and appreciation for their contributions. We will be as supportive as we can during this transition, including providing a minimum of 60-days notice, a severance package reflective of their years of service, and outplacement benefits to help them find future employment.”