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ESPN issues pink slips to 20 on-air broadcasters

A sound technician with ESPN helps produce a telecast of a football game. (Photo by Maize & Blue Nation via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)
A sound technician with ESPN helps produce a telecast of a football game. (Photo by Maize & Blue Nation via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Sports broadcaster ESPN has laid off nearly two dozen of its on-air broadcasters, including analysts Jalen Rose and Jeff Van Gundy, as part of a broader cost-cutting move aimed at shaving tens of millions of dollars off the network’s operational budget.

The layoffs were first reported by the New York Post on Friday, which cited a five-paragraph memo posted on an internal bulletin board used by ESPN employees. The network, which is majority owned by the Walt Disney Company through a joint venture with Hearst Corporation, has declined to comment on the matter.

The pink slips are separate from a three-part wave of layoffs implemented by Disney earlier this year, which also saw the departures of some key on-air and behind-the-scenes personnel at the sports network.

This time around, ESPN is apparently cutting talent in an effort to reduce operational expenses after missing some key financial goals during the quarter, according to reports. The layoffs are intended to bring the network in line with its spending, based on long-term revenue projections.

Many of the on-air talent who are apparently headed for layoffs make more than $1 million annually, the Post said, though some make less than that amount and simply have contracts that are up for renewal.

The layoffs come several weeks after ESPN finalized an agreement to bring FanDuel broadcaster Pat McAfee to the network, where he will host a show scheduled to debut this fall. His five-year contract is reportedly worth $85 million.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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