ESPN layoffs next step to its doom?
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
26 April 2017
ESPN layoffs demonstrate lack of vision
The ESPN layoffs announced today came as no surprise. But it still hurts to see good people let go. The number of layoffs and length of tenure for some is raising more than a few eyebrows. Shocked that NFL reporter Ed Werder was one of those let go. Laying off quality journalists never solves anything.
The writing has been on the wall for ESPN for sometime. The ESPN layoffs emerge from a perfect storm of sorts. The network overpaid for broadcast rights. It created a bunch of shows that are either outright bad or uninteresting. Couple that with people fleeing cable in droves, pushing ratings down and subsequent revenues and, voila, layoffs.
“Instead, I imagine we will see more of the two people screaming at each other kind of show that has become the norm in the rest of broadcasting. The Stephen A. Smith’s of the world are safe for now.”
On the surface, 100 layoffs in a company of 8,000 may not seem like a lot. But ESPN is cutting ties with some reporters who have been with the company for more than a decade. ESPN claims this bloodletting allows it to realign its daily show content.
The rationale for ESPN layoffs
ESPN’s been moving more towards personality driven SportsCenters. It has added a new version at the 6 pm hour with Michael and Jemele. I find it nearly unwatchable. Some of my colleagues suggest that the SportCenter at midnight with Scott Van Pelt is okay. But I’m not going to stay up for that.
Are more targeted SportsCenters coming our way? Perhaps one for women with Hannah Storm? Oh never mind, Hollywood Reporter announced her role is being significantly reduced. I guess ESPN could do a version of SportsCenter with Mickey Mouse for little kids. After all, both are owned by Disney.
Instead, I imagine we will see more of the two people screaming at each other kind of show that has become the norm in the rest of broadcasting. The Stephen A. Smith’s of the world are safe for now.
It’s really too bad. ESPN was once a great brand. It was one of the pioneers of cable. And, as what often happens with pioneers, they lose their way when the landscape changes.
Is ESPN going to be a casualty of consumers cutting the cord? I don’t think so. But I do question if it can support nine different sports channels.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Less sports the more ESPN added channels? A lesson for brands. What do they lose by diluting themselves? Has ESPN made sport so ubiquitous that it has become less important? It’s no secret TV ratings for nearly all sports are sliding, including the NFL.
What do the ESPN layoffs mean for sports programming going forward?
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