ESPN President Confirms Layoffs

Updated: Sources say about 300 staffers affected
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ESPN president John Skipper confirmed that layoffs were taking place at the network Wednesday.

Sources said about 300 staffers in all phases of the business were affected. The layoffs had been expected for months, but were reported yesterday by Bloomberg.

Skipper, who is also co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, said in a memo to staff that the network will be making “a number of organizational changes” but did not specify how many people would be leaving the sports network.

“No matter how many times we’ve adjusted course to lead the industry over the years, the decisions affecting our employees are never made lightly,” wrote Skipper. “It never gets any easier, but it’s a necessary part of our continued strategic evolution to ensure ESPN remains the leader in sports as well as the premier sports destination on any platform.”

In the letter, the exec said employees will get at least 60-days notice, a severance package and outplacement employment benefits.

In August, after the layoff reports started appearing, Disney CEO Bob Iger noted during the company’s quarterly earnings call with analysts that “ESPN's experienced some modest sub losses although those have been less than reported by one of the prominent research firms and the vast majority of them, 80%, were due to decreases in multichannel households with only a small percentage due to skinny packages.”

As a result, he said the company was reducing its outlook for operating income from high single digit increases to gains in the mid-single digit range.

The announcement sent media stocks into a tailspin, reducing their market price by about 13%.

Jon Lafayette contributed to this report.

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