Broadcast sports giant ESPN is telling employees that pandemic-related layoffs are coming. In a company memo sent to NPR, Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and sports content, revealed that 300 people would lose their jobs. He also said 200 open positions will be eliminated.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports,” Pitaro said in the memo. “The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions.”
Bristol-based ESPN tried to head off widespread cuts by asking company executives and talent to take a pay-cut, while furloughing others, but it wasn’t enough. Pitaro explained in the memo that the layoffs were necessary in order to the company to chart a new course in the delivery of sports content, “placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”
It’s the latest round of layoffs for a company that’s had several over the past decade. The most memorable one came in April of 2017 where prominent on-air talent were let go.
The company didn’t say anything about who was going this time, other than “exceptional team members, some who’ve been here for a long time.” Workers were told human resources staff would soon have more updates.