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On Wednesday, ESPN cut loose nearly 100 employees in a new round of job cuts aimed at relieving budgetary pressure forced by expensive league contracts, declining advertising revenue, and a steady loss of subscribers due to cord-cutting.
The cuts, which this time around largely targeted on-air talent, included some big names in the sports media world. Longtime NFL insider Ed Werder, baseball analyst Jayson Stark, NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, and ESPN Radio host Danny Kanell were all victims of the cuts, along with several of their colleagues across nearly all units and covering just about every sport.
ESPN college coverage was particularly hard-hit, losing at least 20 staffers to the layoffs. The network also appears to be scaling back its baseball coverage, and will partner with the MLB Network to air some if its programming on ESPN2.
On Thursday morning, more staffers were still coming forward to announce they were no longer employed by the network.
ESPN reporter and Burlington County native Britt McHenry was on the Parkway Thursday morning reporting on the draft for both SportsCenter and ESPN Radio, even though she found out on Wednesday she was among the job cuts.
Staying on the NFL Draft as my last assignment. Grateful for 3 years at ESPN. My colleagues became best friends & I’ll cherish that the most pic.twitter.com/YHZeutahTS
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) April 27, 2017
McHenry is scheduled to report live from the Parkway on both Friday and Saturday morning.
Back in 2015, McHenry was suspended by ESPN after being caught on video verbally attacking a towing company’s cashier after her car was towed in Arlington, Va. She later apologized for her “hurtful actions,” and told Marie Claire that the stress over the incident became so intense it led to her vision becoming blurry and caused her right eye to grow cloudy.
Longtime college basketball reporter Andy Katz, who has been at the network since 2000, was also among the cuts.
An update on my situation: pic.twitter.com/ktnoLHDTZH
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) April 27, 2017
College basketball analyst Seth Greenberg weighed in on Katz’s departure from the network.
The best teammate I ever worked with was let go yesterday. @ESPNAndyKatz is incredibly talented & the most genuine & sincere person I know.
— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) April 27, 2017
During Wednesday night’s broadcast of Baseball Tonight, the crew announced that two of their analysts also lost their jobs in the cuts — former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez and former Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden.
Disney reported disappointing first-quarter fiscal results back in February, primarily because of weak performance by ESPN and the company’s media networks. Advertising revenue declined 7 percent compared to the first quarter last year while programming costs increased, including a new NBA deal that costs the network $1.4 billion a year, a 143 percent increase over its previous contract with the league.
ESPN also continues to lose subscribers because of the trend of cord-cutting. According to Nielsen, the network had 88.4 million subscribers in December 2016, down from 100 million in February 2011, though ESPN disagrees with Nielsen’s numbers. ESPN earns about $6.50 per subscriber per month.
Unlike a 2015 round of layoffs that claimed around 300 staffers, this round of layoffs spared working behind-the-scenes staff.
ESPN declined comment about the job cuts. The network has about 8,000 employees across the globe.
This is a breaking news report. Check back for updates.
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