ESPN is going through another round of layoffs.
CNBC received a memo in which ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro told staff that around 300 people will be laid off if parent company Disney moves to more direct streaming to the consumer. The memo follows internal discussions about layoffs related to Covid-19.
ESPN will also part ways with some on-air talents after the contracts expire.
"As you know, we value transparency in our internal dialogue, and that means both good times and challenging times," Pitaro wrote in the memo. "After much deliberation, I have some difficult organizational decisions to share. We will be reducing our workforce and affecting approximately 300 valued team members and 200 open positions.
The network, which employs around 6,000 people worldwide, released a statement from Pitaro on Thursday confirming the layoffs.
Disney's share price rose more than 2% on Thursday.
Reports surfaced last week that the network could suffer more layoffs as the parent company focuses more on the streaming service. Other old media companies had similar rounds of layoffs related to the pandemic and the move to streaming this year.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek hinted at a possible downsizing as the company restructured its media and entertainment departments into a single organization that will be responsible for content distribution, ad sales, and Disney +.
As you know, we value transparency in our internal dialogue, both in good and in challenging times. After much deliberation, I have some difficult organizational decisions to share. We will reduce our workforce and affect around 300 valued team members and 200 vacancies.
Today is difficult because ESPN has always been and always has been empowered by its amazing people. Teamwork, commitment, spirit and energy have built this place up and make ESPN something special. Prior to the pandemic, we had delved into the strategy of how best to position ESPN for future success, amid a huge disruption in the way fans consume sport. The significant impact of the pandemic on our business has accelerated these forward-looking discussions significantly. In the short term, we have initiated various steps such as salary cuts for executives and talents, vacation days and budget cuts and implemented innovative operating and production approaches to weather the COVID storm.
However, we have reached a turning point. The speed with which change is taking place demands great urgency and we now have to serve sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Providing resources to support our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital and, of course, continuing innovative television experiences is more important than ever. Building a prosperous future in a changing world, however, means facing difficult choices. Making informed decisions about how and where to go – and, as always, as efficiently as possible – is by far the most challenging task of any leadership team.
And while this must be done through a business lens, it must also be done with great respect and genuine concern for people. We're splitting off some exceptional team members, some of whom have been here a long time and who have all made important contributions to ESPN. We are very grateful for all they have meant to us and I assure you that we are taking steps to facilitate their transitions. I'm proud of the people at ESPN.
Together we have overcome enormous challenges and adversities in the past few months and please know that the decisions and plans made today were not made lightly. They are necessary, however, and I believe that we will advance this unprecedented disruption and effectively address it. Our human resources and communications teams will continue to keep you informed of any updates and you will have more details about our future direction over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of the topics described in this notice, please contact your management team or HR business partner.
With best thanks,