The situation over at ESPN appears to be going from bad to worse, with rumors swirling that the sports broadcaster will soon undergo another round of layoffs that may see some big names and on-air talent get the boot.
The layoffs are expected to target around 100 staffers and take place shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, Sports Illustrated reported. Everyone from executives, producers, and front-facing broadcasters down to digital and technology employees are reportedly vulnerable.
At the center of the layoffs is the SportsCenter franchise, which has already seen a considerable drop in airtime on the network’s main channel and could see some very recognizable faces depart as early as the end of this month.
ESPN embarked on a ruthless layoff strategy in October 2015, when it laid off a whopping 300 employees, or roughly 5 percent of its entire workforce. Among those affected by the first round of layoffs were veteran employees who had been with the network for decades and contributed to its rise to prominence.
Those layoffs were followed by a smaller round of pink slips that targeted 100 employees, mostly journalists and on-air talent.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” ESPN said in a statement at the time.
A source told Sporting News that the incoming layoffs at ESPN might be even more brutal than the ones that preceded it because nobody is safe.
“This time it won’t matter if you’re ‘liked’ or not. It’s not going to be pretty,” the source said.
ESPN has primarily struggled due to a sagging viewership and ratings plummeting as households opt to cut the cord and consume entertainment in other ways. Costly contracts with top talent and billion-dollar television rights for the most popular sports franchises have also cut into the bottom line.