ESPN Lays Off 300 Staffers Amid Resource Shift Toward DTC, Digital Businesses

By 11/05/2020
ESPN Lays Off 300 Staffers Amid Resource Shift Toward DTC, Digital Businesses

Disney-owned ESPN announced today that it is eliminating a total of positions across the company — including 300 jobs that are already filled and 200 open positions — in order to allocate resources toward direct-to-consumer and digital initiatives, while also continuing to innovate its TV experience, the company said.

It is unclear which divisions of the company will be affected by the cuts. In terms of its DTC business, Disney launched subscription service ESPN+ last year, and the venture has thus far amassed 9 million subscribers. Priced at $6 per month, ESPN+ can also be bundled with Hulu and Disney+ for $13.

ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro shared news of the cuts in a staff memo obtained by Deadline, which reported that ESPN will have a total of 5,000 employees after the layoffs are tendered.

“The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways,” Pitaro wrote. “Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”

Deadline notes that ESPN has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with sports content being wiped out for a solid three months and the industry still in a state of uncertainty as teams and conferences return to play in various capacities. This ultimately accelerated the layoffs conversation, the company said, which had been long in the works.

“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. “We have, however, reached an inflection point.  The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways.  Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”