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Monday, May 20, 2024

ESPN’s NFL, NBA Coverage Will Look Much Different After Layoffs

  • Network eliminates jobs of about 20 on-air personalities
  • Reductions arrive amid ongoing struggle with cord-cutting
ESPN-Disney
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

NFL and NBA coverage on the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports is about to look a whole lot different.

On Friday, ESPN conducted its latest wave of its layoffs, eliminating the jobs of about 20 on-air personalities — including big names such as Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman, Todd McShay, LaPhonso Ellis, Keyshawn Johnson, and Steve Young.

Perhaps most startling are the layoffs of prominent NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy and Suzy Kolber, a 27-year veteran of ESPN and a fixture on network tentpoles such as “Monday Night Countdown” and coverage of the NFL Draft.

The front-facing staff cuts fundamentally reshape the on-air presentation of two of ESPN’s most high-profile sports. The network is tied to the NFL through 2033 and seeks to renew its existing NBA rights.

The staff cuts have devastated the morale at the company, with the Bristol, Connecticut, campus described by one staff employee as “like a morgue.”

“This is an extremely challenging process, involving individuals who have had a tremendous impact on our company,” the network said.

Cord-Cutting Fallout

The staff reductions arrive as ESPN, like so many other U.S. cable outlets, struggles with ongoing cord-cutting by consumers and the massive financial challenges they present. ESPN is now in 72.5 million homes, according to Nielsen, down 28% from a peak of 100.1 million in 2011 — and the yearly subscriber losses are accelerating.

Overall, parent company Disney is eliminating 7,000 jobs — about 3% of its global workforce — as it cuts at least $5.5 billion in costs.

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