MLB and NHL Network will pay their freelance and part-time employees through the end of April 2020, sources tell Front Office Sports.
The two league-owned sports cable networks notified employees of the extra pay via an internal memo. Previously, MLB and NHL Networks had committed to paying their freelancers through March 28.
The “additional compensation” should help “mitigate the financial disruption” to the workforce caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the memo, which was dated April 2.
The decision marks some rare good news for a sports media industry hammered by salary cutbacks, layoffs, and furloughs. The move will impact “hundreds of employees,” including camera operators, video editors and tech support at the network’s Secaucus, N.J. studios, sources said.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post previously tweeted the two networks are “averaging their weekly pay for the last year and cutting it in half.” All full-time, salaried staff will continue to be fully compensated, according to sources. MLB and NHL Network declined to comment.
Previously, parent Disney ordered all ESPN executives from the vice president level on up to absorb cuts in their base salaries of 20% to 30%.
While the pay cuts were described as “temporary,” the lost pay will be permanent. If things get back to normal, ESPN executives will return to their previous compensation levels – but they “won’t be made whole” for the lost salary, sources said.
MLB and the NHL suspended their seasons on March 13. That was one day after NBA player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, igniting a chain reaction that has virtually closed down sports.