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ESPN layoffs to hit on-camera personalities

Evander Holyfield ‏at ESPN for the 30 for 30 premiere. Photo (c) @holyfield

CNNMoney — The cuts will only affect “talent” — not rank-and-file employees, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The details are still being finalized, but layoffs are expected to take place through June.

No announcement has been made about which personalities will be affected, but it seems those with contracts up for renewal may be cut first.

ESPN may also buy out some contracts that aren’t ending soon, according to sources.

“We have long been about serving fans and innovating to create the best content for them,” ESPN said in a statement. “Today’s fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do. Inevitably that has consequences for how we utilize our talent. We are confident that ESPN will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports.”

The last time ESPN cut talent was in 2015. Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons, both of whom had expensive contracts, were among the big names who were cut loose.

Later that year, ESPN also laid off about 300 employees — roughly 4% of the network’s global workforce. During those layoffs, hosts, reporters and commentators generally weren’t affected. ESPN also had a round of layoffs in 2013.

The cuts came as growing numbers of viewers unsubscribed from the cable channel, even as it’s paying for costly long-term TV deals with pro sports leagues.

At the time of the 2015 cuts, it was reported that ESPN was told by its parent company, Disney, to “trim $100 million from the 2016 budget and $250 million in 2017.”

First published by WordPress CNNMoney (New York)

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