ESPN’s layoff timing is odd

Getty Images

ESPN has launched it’s long-expected layoffs, with the biggest news so far being that long-time NFL reporter Ed Werder has been let go. While the moves will presumably affect all aspects of the network and the sports it covers, the timing is odd.

Roughly 100 employees are being laid off only one day before the draft, which is one of the biggest annual events for ESPN. The three-day affair will result in millions consuming ESPN television, radio, and online content. And it’s all happening one day after what will be the biggest one-day exodus of talent in the history of the network.

Regardless of the reasons for the departures (and in any business where revenue is dramatically shrinking, costs must be slashed), making the moves right now makes it a head-scratcher. Perhaps the thinking is that the moves will be noticed less than they would have been given the pendency of the draft, and that the intensity of the draft coverage will make the audience forget by Monday that the layoffs even happened.

The real question is whether the audience even cares. People in the media do because people in the media know many of the people who are being affected by these moves, and they can sympathize/empathize with the situation. At an operation like ESPN, however, people come and go all the time without the average consumer even noticing.

Despite the timing, it’s a sad day for many ESPN employees and their families. It’s also a reminder that every media entity is a for-profit operation. If not enough profit is being generated for those who hold the equity, reductions will have to be made.

70 responses to “ESPN’s layoff timing is odd

  1. I started watching less back around 2000. I stopped watching in 2007. If they fired all the “personalities” and hired nothing but reporters then I’d happily come back and give them another try.

    I have zero desire to watch TV personalities (aka F list celebrities.) talk about their “extreme” opinions on one issue for 12 straight hours.

    I prefer to watch reporters report the news and let me form my own opinion based off the news reports.

  2. The best time for them to have done this was in the dead of summer when the only (watchable) sport on is baseball and no one would notice the departures.

  3. Just goes to show that there are consequences for media organizations that continue to push agendas that their customers don’t like.

    On an unrelated note, I noticed that we haven’t seen many articles about the name of the Redskins franchise lately.

  4. “Despite the timing, it’s a sad day for many ESPN employees and their families.”

    I have no sympathy for people led by a group of liars, plagiarists and scumbags on air.

    Haven’t watched the worldwide joke of sportscasting for over 10 years and hope they go under.

  5. Actually, the timing is perfect. The draft will bring ratings and revenue that might make them re-think the layoffs. But if they’re really serious about the belt tightening, then they won’t want that second-guessing moment.

  6. They also laid off the two most noteworthy NHL reporters in the middle of the NHL playoffs. But I suspect no one really cares about that besides the eight people who actually will miss Burnside and LeBrun.

  7. The content got a bit worst. The major sports leagues created their own channels. Add all that to the rise of the internet and it was the perfect storm. It’s going to be a slow painful death for ESPN just like Circuit City, Radio Shack, Blockbuster, Sears, etc.

  8. As a Patriots fan I must confess since the whole Deflategate fiasco and witch hunt I have not watched anything on their network, but I do follow Mike Reiss ( An excellent beat reporter) on their Patriots web pages.

    Overall ESPN are probably the most guilty of over analysis of sports especially football. Whilst I love the game immensely I dont need or want to see that much coverage its total overkill.

    No new ideas, same old same old boring presentation, no innovation.

    I for one will not be shedding any tears.

  9. Much like what happened to MTV a long while back, ESPN got too far away from the core of what made them popular in the first place and degenerated into just another “lifestyle” channel.

  10. Anyone with a family can empathize with the people being laid off but you will be hard pressed to find anyone that thinks bspn hasn’t done this to itself

  11. Say what you will … but ESPN is having trouble because they vastly overpaid for several broadcasting contracts. Stupid deals like paying the NBA $24 billion. It’s not the on air personalities … or presentation … or any of that soft stuff.

  12. The presidents, ceos, and whoever else decided to pay billions of dollars on sports contracts when cord cutting is increasing, should be let go!

  13. Checked the firings list and was so disappointed that the NY Jets beat writer, Rich Cimini, was unfortunately NOT fired.

  14. I have not watched ESPN for years. Any time you watch there are like 5 plus people on screen at the same time talking and most of the time it is about either the Patriots, Redsox, or Yankees. If you are not a fan of one of those three teams there is no point. There was a response earlier about the NFL network doing the same thing and I agree. They will. Just to many former players talking about themselves. I really do not care about them unless its from a player of a team that I am a fan of.

  15. “elyasm says:
    Apr 26, 2017 12:21 PM
    Just goes to show that there are consequences for media organizations that continue to push agendas that their customers don’t like. On an unrelated note, I noticed that we haven’t seen many articles about the name of the Redskins franchise lately.”
    ****************

    Perhaps, but then again, you still read this site.

  16. The Patriots werent the only team the published nonsense about just to be ‘entertaining’. There are a lot of fan bases that got weary of things going on with their team and players too. Plus this goes well beyond football, they did this with all sports audiences. Buts not so much that by itself that hurt them. What happened is they lost their focus as a sports news media and started trying to be an entertainment media instead and its just not grabbing people’s interest.

  17. The timing is not odd. This is a business decision, not a programming one. They (i.e. Disney) have an earnings call in 2 weeks, so they want their ducks in a row for that.

  18. Most people view ESPN personalities (and most all sports personalities) like they do referees.

    We don’t care or notice unless they’re bad at their job.

  19. I saw a promo a few weeks ago for ESPN’s show The Six with Michael Smith and Jamele Hill. It said that in addition to sports news/highlights, they’d get into discussing the world of entertainment, including movies, celebrity interviews, and music. I couldn’t believe that ESPN had fallen this far in terms of programming ideas. Why would I care to watch Michael Smith interview the likes of Justin Timberlake on his new album? I don’t want to watch Jamele Hill interview the cast of The Avengers on what it was like making their 5th movie together.

    ESPN made its bed years ago when it became the MTV of the sports world. Now it must sleep in it.

  20. Its all a business cost slashing..Bill O’reilly was axed because sponsors, IE MONEY was being pulled away but he ius still the best and smartest and fairest analyst on MSM

  21. ESPN used to be about sports like MTV used to be about music. Then they got political and it went down hill. ESPN deserves this. I feel bad for the employees who had nothing to do with the decision for ESPN to get more political with their commentary and programming.

  22. I feel bad for some of the lower paid people getting laid off, but I assume people like Werder will be fine money-wise and easily get another gig.

  23. Like many others here, I do not watch espn. I used to occasionally listen to the espn station here in town.
    But I quit listening to that, when it became more about the on air ppl attempted to be humorous, or enlighten me w/their worldly or political knowledge.
    I don’t care about SVP’s “Club Dump” or anything that Stu Gatz, and that moron he shares air time with have to say, and I don’t care to hear Mike & Mike argue their points.
    I guess that’s why I don’t listen any more.

  24. espn’s biggest issue is not enough content with people hitting balls, or ball like objects, with sticks or their feet…bring back those 80’s style aztec rules death soccer matches and they’ll get all the eyeballs from across this great land…bigger than mnf it would be…

  25. ESPN has become like VICE TV. Television for millenials who don’t watch TV.

    The foray into politics etc… seems like it’s cost them viewers. Maybe it’s overblown? Who knows? I’ve heard a lot more people say “That’s it, I’m tired of the political stuff” then said “Oh good, ESPN is talking about politics, I’m going to start watching sports!

  26. No wonder they’re laying people off. Their programming is terrible. I actually watched a show yesterday featuring Myles Garrett, who hasn’t been drafted yet, had him in makeup and bright clothes, posing for pictures on a car, on a couch with records, talking about himself.

    WTF is this crap?

  27. These ESPN employees delighted in Arizona and North Carolina residents losing income when their states were boycotted for passing laws. Now they are freaking out because others find their plight hilarious. What goes around, comes around.

  28. The only problem is that ESPN will layoff all the wrong people. They’ll keep all the SJW’s that injected leftist politics into the sports they cover and layoff all those that reported on the actual sports.

  29. I am surprised that they didn’t keep the talent around for awhile to train their replacements.

  30. buckybadger said:”

    With the growing competition they will get jobs if they are any good at them.”

    ==============

    I don’t know about that. With the cable industry evolving, I am not so sure that most of these people will ever get national jobs. Fs1 seems to be going in the direction of ESPN light in terms of daily talking heads. It will be interesting to see if NBC Sports and CBS Sports add more daytime talk given that ESPN is letting people go.

    It will be interesting to see if Mike Golic’s kid manages to hang on to his job at ESPN.

  31. I couldn’t tell you the last time I tuned into ESPN. What’s the point, the NFL Network covers all I want to watch anyways.

  32. I watch ESPN only for MNF. There will still be more than enough reporters and commentators. It is a bloated company that can use some trimming.

  33. ESPN has become an unabashed platform for left wing politics. I want to watch sports, not hear some ill-informed liberal jerk telling me how bad this country is and how guys like Collin Kaepernick are athletes we should all look up to.

    Get rid of the social justice warriors who populate the anchor desks and shows, put an emphasis back on Sports and not pop culture and you’ll get the viewers back.

    Until then, this once iconic sports network should just prepare for the next round of layoffs.

  34. I went cold turkey on ESPN (outside of specific sporting events) and sports radio about 8 years ago. Honestly I don’t miss the over analysis of every “____” gate, play, draft prospect, non PC comment, etc…

    Sports should be played and or watched no need for the rest of the BS.

  35. The timing isn’t too odd under the circumstances. The story is that ESPN was going to do the layoffs weeks, possibly months later. But when news about the potential layoffs started leaking out, the situation became untenable; there was this dark cloud hanging over the heads of ESPN employees b/c of the employees’ uncertainty in their careers. B/c of this, management decided to move up their timetable & drop the hatchet now.

    Also, w/ the NFL draft being such a huge event, the layoffs will be a big(ish) story for the next couple days, & then sports fans will be immersed in draft coverage. None of the laid off employees (incl. Werder & Dilfer) were crucial to the draft coverage, so they won’t be missed much.

  36. It’s not only their on-air personalities that have been mostly awful, they have ruined their website in the last few years so that it is practically unusable and anything you might want to read is behind the paywall.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!