Sports journalism giant ESPN is gameplanning for its future this week after massive layoffs at ‘The Worldwide Leader’ last week saw the departure of several big-name on-air talents. ESPN President John Skipper released a statement addressing the layoffs and characterizing them as a symptom of an ever-evolving media landscape.
The reason? Well, that depends who you ask.
Some point to the ever-changing landscape of cord-cutters. The wide variety of streaming services available means consumers are watching TV in a lot of different ways, many of which don’t involve sitting down on a couch in front of a flat screen. Others say ESPN’s focus has drifted away from reporting on sports and into the realm of sensationalism, seeking to politicize every story rather than just reporting on it as a sports story, and that its core viewers are turning away as a result.
How did ESPN’s business model lead to last week’s layoffs? How are the network and its parent company, Disney, positioning themselves for the future?
James Andrew Miller, journalist and author of several books; he is co-author of ‘Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN’ (Back Bay Books, 2011); he tweets @JimMiller