When ESPN changed their agenda from covering sports to being a “grassroots marketing platform” for the Democrat party they sealed their fate to not stay in business, hoping for the continued popularity that they believed existed during the former Barack Obama presidential years, they miss the mark totally in the Populist movement behind President Donald J. Trump.
Little did they understand then that pushing sports head first into social justice activism would destroy their brand and their viewership, and little do they want to accept that fact today.
According to the LA Times, “ESPN is slashing 500 jobs as cost pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic are accelerating the sports media company’s move into streaming.
The cuts, which include 300 layoffs, were revealed Thursday in a memo from Jimmy Pitaro, president of the Walt Disney Co.-owned unit. In addition to the layoffs, another 200 open positions will be eliminated, the company said. ESPN has more than 5,000 employees worldwide.
“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 in the memo viewed by the Times. “The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions.”
The company, based in Bristol, Conn., did not specify which areas would be affected, but people familiar with the plans who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly said the cuts would be across different departments.”
Blaming a pandemic is convenient for laying off 10% of their workforce.
According to a Memo, the company President wrote about the matter:
“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 wrote. “The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions. In the short term, we enacted various steps like executive and talent salary reductions, furloughs and budget cuts, and we implemented innovative operations and production approaches, all in an effort to weather the COVID storm.
Pitaro continued, “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.
ESPN has about 4,000 employees in Bristol, and about 2,500 others spread out across the rest of the United States and the globe.
Outkick reported on the matter:
As we wrote previously, this news does not come as a major surprise to those who are following both the media industry and Disney in the pandemic. NBC Universal layoffs impacted up to 10 percent of their 35,000 employees, including many at NBC Sports. CBS News was hit with layoffs in May. Fox Sports laid off between 50 and 100 staffers in July. We could go on and on naming media organizations, both in and out of sports, who have had to slash their budgets lately.
The pandemic has affected many of Disney’s business operations, such as theme parks, cruises, movies and live sports. As a result, Disney announced in September that it was laying off 28,000 park employees. Though most sports leagues have been salvaged, there was some lost revenue in college football and other sports.
ESPN has also been slowly transitioning away from a business model that primarily focuses on cable TV, where they have been steadily losing subscribers since 2015, to the OTT streaming future. No one yet knows how long it will take to evolve. Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that the company would be focusing on its direct-to-consumer initiatives, which means a big push behind the content on Disney+ and ESPN+.
Sports watchers, with reactions, said that the company’s social justice activities destroyed ESPN’s ratings.