ESPN lays off hundreds of employees, citing COVID-19 ‘disruption’

BRISTOL, Conn. — In a Thursday memo to employees, ESPN announced 300 companywide layoffs, citing the “significant impact” of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the company’s bottom line.

Jimmy Pitaro, the sports news network’s president, also noted in the memo that an additional 200 open positions will not be filled, USA Today reported.

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Pitaro also cited the role of evolving television-viewing habits that have negatively impacted both ESPN and its parent company, The Walt Disney Co., in the decision to make cuts, The Washington Post reported.

The network in April asked its highest-paid executives and talent to take pay cuts in order to avoid furloughs and layoffs at that time, but those measures have proved ineffective at thwarting the cuts that will now focus heavily on production employees at ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters, the Post reported.

ESPN employs about 6,500 people globally, with roughly 4,000 of those positions at its headquarters, USA Today reported.

“Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports,” Pitaro wrote in the memo to employees. “The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions.”

College football writer Ivan Maisel, who has been with ESPN for 18 years, was among those employees let go, he confirmed via Twitter.

“I love to write, and I love college football, and I don’t anticipate either one of those loves diminishing anytime soon. After Jan. 31, we’ll see what happens,” Maisel added, referencing his contract that ESPN has opted not to renew.