In September, Disney laid off 28,000 employees, mainly at its two US theme parks. It reported a loss of $ 4.72 billion in the last quarter, covering April through June. Revenue for the company’s cable networks division, which is made up primarily of ESPN but also includes properties like Disney Channel, fell 10%.
Prior to the layoffs, ESPN had taken steps to cut employee spending. Some employees have been laid off, and executives and highly paid employees have been asked to accept pay cuts in recent months.
While ESPN’s most prominent employees are not directly affected by these cuts, some on-air talent likely won’t have their contracts renewed when they expire, and others may see less lucrative contract extensions.
According to a number of talented agents who have insisted on anonymity so as not to hurt their relationship with ESPN, the company is playing hard in the negotiations. Over the past several months, some on-air employees have signed extensions with base pay below $ 50,000 and bonuses for each on-air appearance, whereas they previously had larger contracts guaranteeing a certain number. appearances on the air.
During the pandemic, ESPN broadcast more games remotely, with a limited number of on-site staff and most functions performed from one of the company’s broadcast centers in Bristol, Connecticut; Los Angeles; New York; or Charlotte, NC This saves travel and employee costs, and at least some of the increase in remote production is expected to continue even after ESPN deems it safe to travel again.
As the company cuts costs, it plans to potentially increase its already disproportionate rights commitment. NFL’s contracts with television networks expire in 2021 and 2022, and ESPN is expected to not only bid to keep its “Monday Night Football” package, but also to bid on a Sunday game pack and enter the Super Bowl. ESPN’s broadcast contract with Major League Baseball will expire soon and it may look to bid on rights to NHL games next year.
ESPN is just the latest sports media property to suffer layoffs. Fox Sports laid off 50 to 100 employees over the summer, NBC Sports laid off about 75 employees in its regional sports networks, and The Athletic laid off 46 people.