The layoffs are expected to primarily affect on-air radio and television talent, including some of the network’s most notable names. “Around 50 names you will recognize; another 50 you may not,” author James Miller, who has long chronicled the Worldwide Leader, tweeted Wednesday.
Layoffs have been looming at ESPN for months as the network continues to lose cable subscribers, who provide much of its monthly and annual revenue. ESPN lost more than 1 million subscribers last October and November alone, as audiences’ changing cable and streaming habits cause shifts in the broader industry. ESPN said in a quarterly earnings report last year that it lost 7 million subscribers between 2011 and 2015, and it has reportedly lost 12 million total subscribers over the past five years.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” ESPN President John Skipper wrote in a company-wide memo that was posted online.
“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,” Skipper wrote. “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.”
Already, the layoffs have affected some of ESPN’s biggest names: Longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder, a stalwart of the network’s NFL coverage for nearly two decades, announced his layoff on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
Further announcements are expected to come throughout the day on Wednesday. “Phone calls have begun,” Miller tweeted Wednesday morning.
Other layoffs announced Wednesday include ESPN college basketball reporters Dana O’Neil, C.L. Brown and Eamonn Brennan, college football reporter Brett McMurphy, and hockey writers Scott Burnside, Joe McDonald and Pierre LeBrun. ESPNW writer and radio host Jane McManus, radio host Danny Kanell, MLB analyst Jim Bowden, soccer writer Mike Goodman and baseball writer Jayson Stark were also among those who were laid off.
Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, who has worked as a studio analyst for ESPN, also tweeted that he was among the layoffs. Others affected include SportsCenter’s Jay Crawford, NBA writer Ethan Sherwood Strauss and college basketball analyst Len Elmore.
This is a developing story and will be updated.