In what amounts to a need to re-invent to stay relevant, ESPN is reportedly cutting more than 100 members of its on-air talent. The reasons are simple:
ESPN’s subscriber numbers have dropped steadily, weighing on parent company Disney, forcing a new round of cost-cutting. When Disney demands cuts, ESPN can make those cuts however it chooses.
ESPN had major layoffs in 2015, as it did two years before that, in 2013. Both times, it cut around 300 people. This time around, the network reportedly sought to cut tens of millions of dollars, and decided that ridding itself of big expensive contracts was the way to do it.
The internet continues to offer more options for entertainment, both in-home and on the go, and alternate ways for people to consume sports content. Sadly, this comes at a cost of the careers of many good people. Pro football reporter Ed Werder, one of the best around, was the first to announce his layoff:
After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I've been informed that I'm being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2017
No matter how one views the network as a whole, it’s always sad to see good people let go. NJ.com is offering live updates on the layoffs as they are announced here for those interested. We will be paying particular attention, of course, to the effect on college football reporting and the SEC Network.