ESPN laying off several hundred people

ESPN is undertaking mass layoffs this week.

The sports network informed employees about the cutbacks in an internal memo on Wednesday morning.

About 300 employees, nearly 4% of the network’s global workforce, will be affected, according to network spokeswoman. The cuts will take place over a period of several days.

ESPN did not detail which departments or shows would be hurt the most. But information began to trickle out by Wednesday evening. Gus Ramsey, a 20-year veteran producer who recently became a talent coach at the network, said in a blog post that he’d been dismissed along with “a lot of good people.”

“Many of them had been there longer than me,” he wrote. “Many of them I had worked closely with on projects I am quite proud of. It sucks.”

But Ramsey said he is not bitter, at least not yet — “at first blush, I am grateful for my experiences over the last 20+ years.”

The faces of ESPN — hosts, reporters and commentators — generally have contracts so they’re not affected by the layoffs.

The internal memo from John Skipper, ESPN’s president, called the cuts “necessary.”

“No matter how many times we’ve adjusted course to lead the industry over the years, the decisions affecting our employees are never made lightly,” he wrote. “It never gets any easier, but it’s a necessary part of our continued strategic evolution to ensure ESPN remains the leader in sports as well as the premier sports destination on any platform.”

The layoffs are seen as both a reaction to, and preparation for, wrenching changes in the cable television business. Cable channels like ESPN, which depend on subscriber fees, have been pinched by the small but growing number of viewers unsubscribing.

The network is also fenced in by long-term licensing deals with the NFL, NBA and other sports leagues. The costs of sports rights have soared in recent years as multiple networks have competed to carry live games.

Back in August ESPN’s parent company, Disney, reduced its profit growth expectations for the network, citing these marketplace challenges.

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