Television

ESPN Layoffs - Names Begin to Trickle Out

ESPN logo Layoffs are never a pleasant time for any company, and ESPN, a household cable channel name in the United States, just started another round today, which had been long-anticipated.

Read more for the official note from network president John Skipper, and some of the names that are starting to trickle out.

Network President, John Skipper, writes:

ESPN has been actively engaged throughout its history in navigating changes in technology and fan behavior in order to continue to deliver quality, breakthrough content. Today, we are again focused on a strategic vision that will propel our vast array of networks and services forward.

A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble.  Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands.  We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week.  A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.

These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company.  I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.

Our objective in all we do is to best serve fans and their changing consumption habits while still maintaining an unparalleled and diverse talent roster that resonates with fans across all our platforms.  We will continue to foster creativity and investment in the products and resources necessary to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you as always for your continuing dedication to our work.

According to The Washington Post (which is also keeping a running list as more names filter out through the day), here are some of the names that are starting to filter out as having been let go:

Ed Werder, longtime NFL reporter

Longtime MLB reporter Jayson Stark

Trent Dilfer, NFL analyst

Danny Kanell, who has been with the network as a college football analyst since 2010 and co-hosted a radio show with Ryen Russillo since 2015

Brett McMurphy, college football news reporter

Jean-Jacques Taylor, covered All Things Dallas

Former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden

John Buccigross, a longtime SportsCenter host may be in limbo

“Baseball Tonight” host and MLB play-by-play announcer Karl Ravech, ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo and network veteran Hannah Storm will see their roles “significantly reduced.”

NHL Columnists, Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside have been let go.

Writer Joe McDonald

Longtime college basketball writer Dana O’Neil

College basketball writer Eamonn Brennan

Austin Ward, Jesse Temple and Brian Bennett, who all covered the Big Ten

Jeremy Crabtree and Derek Tyson, who covered recruiting

ESPNU host Brendan Fitzgerald

Paul Kuharsky, who covered the Tennessee Titans for ESPN.com

ESPN Insider soccer writer Mike L. Goodman

Baseball writer Mark Saxon

This is the second round of layoffs at ESPN in less than two years.  The network employs approximately 8,000 total.  Over the past five years, ESPN has seen a huge subscriber decrease, while having to contend with the increase in the amount it pays the various leagues and sports associations to televise their events.

All the best to those involved and here's hoping they land on their feet soon.

 

 

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Live from New York...It's Apple

The front face of the Apple Store in New York City In this day and age of DVRs and being able to skim through commercials at will, television programs have had to find ways to reinvent themselves and continue to look for means of revenue.  That being said, Apple has signed on with NBC, in a move that will see Saturday Night Live cast members create humorous ads that will air during what would usually be commercial breaks on the show, Variety is reporting.  While we do not know yet what kind of content the show will create for Apple, it will be featuring Apple products.

Verizon is also joining in on the fun, as SNL's "Weekend Update" anchor Colin Jost will be writing a spot for the carrier that will be starring cast member, Kenan Thompson.  However Apple's ad will differ in format from Verizon's.

Saturday Night Live's goal with the ads is to try and develop new content that will hopefully be more appealing to advertisers as well as giving viewers a reason to stay up and watch the show live, versus catching replays on apps and streaming services.

“Everyone is struggling now in a world where there is so much media,” SNL head Lorne Michaels shared. “We are all competing for sponsors, and everything is being reinvented. ‘SNL’ has been reinventing itself from season two.”

With the recent events within US politics, and SNL's knack for political satire, the show has seen a surge of popularity this season.  However, NBC is at the same time trying to make the show more appealing to advertisers as SNL is subtly trying to work more advertising into its sketches.

“Comedy is a big force in the culture, and I don’t think there’s a lot of over thinking about doing commercials as there was in the late ’60s and early 70s,” says Michaels. “When I grew up, it was like Jack Benny for Jell-O or Bob Hope for Chrysler or Texaco Star Theatre.”

Verizon's ad should air sometime this month with Apple's slated to follow sometime next month.