ESPN, the Bristol-based company, confirmed that 150 jobs will be terminated on Wednesday.
Wednesday's round of layoffs at ESPN marks the third in a little more than two years at the sports network. In 2015, roughly 300 were let go and in April, the network cut 100 jobs. Many of those were on-air staff.
According to a memo obtained by Eyewitness News, employees slated for termination are in studio production, digital content, and technology, in an attempt to “do less in certain instances and re-direct resources,” as detailed in the letter from ESPN President John Skipper.
Quinnipiac University journalism professor Rich Hanley said the announcement was surprising because those are jobs that should be more stable than most in this industry.
"ESPN has to move quickly to see the smartphone as a delivery system, the prime delivery system of it's content," Hanley said.
Hanley said the reason this is happening is simple. ESPN is losing viewers. TV watchers are moving towards streaming services and cutting the cable cord altogether.
"Fewer and fewer people are subscribing to cable and cable packages, so they have to cut costs," Hanley said.
That's not the only hit ESPN is taking. The network is still forced to live with huge contracts with sports leagues.
"It can't renegotiate, so it has to cut somewhere and unfortunately, the cuts are coming on the personnel end," Hanley said.
ESPN reassured sports fan the company plans to continue investing in services to its viewers.
While these layoffs are sadly coming right in the middle of the holidays, ESPN is offering options. The ESPN News Sports Center staffers are being moved to other shows.
The letter also stated the employees facing the job termination will be assisted “as much as possible in this difficult moment with severance, a 2017 bonus, the continuation of health benefits and outplacement services.”
Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu looks at the big picture when reflecting on Wednesday's layoffs.
"I have great empathy for those employees. Obviously, if there was anything we could do for them, we would do so," Zoppo-Sassu said. "They still have 4,000 people on campus. They are a great partner. We're looking forward to a continued relationship with them."
While these layoffs are happening, Skipper reportedly signed a contract extension to 2021.
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