ESPN could begin announcing a major round of layoffs that would impact hundreds of employees as soon as Nov. 5, fueled partly by the COVID-19 pandemic and a desire to continue calling and producing games remotely.
Behind-the-camera workers — production assistants, researchers and camera operators — are expected to be hit significantly while some mid to senior-level talent will not see their contracts renewed, or will be asked to come back at a reduced salary. ESPN has approximately 4,000 employees based at its Bristol, Conn. headquarters, and around 6,500 worldwide.
The layoffs come as parent company Walt Disney Co. is reportedly making a $1 billion pitch to acquire the rights to the NFL’s Sunday night matchup. NBC currently owns the NFL’s Sunday night rights — paying $960 million per year — and will likely vie to keep the marquee slot, while ESPN already spends almost $2 billion per year for “Monday Night Football.”