One of the largest sports networks in the nation will soon face large cuts to personnel, according to ESPN’s parent company Disney.
The layoffs were announced by Disney CEO Bob Iger last month. The sports channel’s head, Jimmy Pitaro has reportedly asked each department to prepare for sharp layoffs.
While Disney will lay off 7,000 employees total, the exact amount for ESPN has not been announced.
The New York Post reported that the cuts will be comprehensive and have “no sacred cows.”
The company has a number of high-profile and highly-paid talents, including former quarterback Troy Aikman and the controversial sports host Stephen A. Smith. Between these two figures alone, the channel spends $30 million per year. The Post also reported on a potential disagreement with college football announcer Chris Fowler.
NEWS: ESPN is planning layoffs and there are no "sacred cows," according to sources.
Full details in column https://t.co/Q3dWqndIDe
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 20, 2023
The latest bad news is another in a series of setbacks for the sports giant. After growing dramatically with the advent of cable television, a number of factors have caused a sharp decline in the channel’s reach and influence.
ESPN is partially suffering due to the decline of traditional television. As more Americans cancel their former cable and satellite plans, the sports network has lost out on many of their former viewers.
The channel saw serious declines in viewership of several major sports. In January, ESPN announced a 3% decline in its football viewership. This was followed by a 35% decline in the viewership of hockey on the channel.
As serious as the recent declines have been, they follow a large decline in viewership following a number of political causes entering into ESPN’s broadcasts.
Some conservatives blame the decline in ESPN ratings in part due to a foray into politics. ESPN was among news and sports networks that declared their open support for left-leaning political causes, including Black Lives Matter (BLM) in 2020.
Viewership in the middle of 2020 declined to what was at the time an all-time low for the channel.
Disney has also been criticized by many conservatives for what they term left-wing politics entering into children’s programming. Opponents of Disney’s recent path include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).