Rumors of a massive layoff coming at ESPN have been swirling for some time now, and it looks like it’s finally hit. Word came down today of a number of firings at the Worldwide Leader in Sports, including some fan-favorite personalities.
Word began trickling down this morning, mostly coming from straight from the source. “After 17 years reporting on #NFL,” Tweeted Ed Werder, “I’ve been informed that I’m being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire.” Werder was likely the highest profile firing, but reports indicate as many as 100 people could be looking for new work.
After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I've been informed that I'm being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire
— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) April 26, 2017
Columnist Johnette Howard, radio host Danny Kanell, college basketball writer Eamonn Brennan, college football reporter Brett McMurphy, baseball reporter Mark Saxon, and popular MLB analyst Jim Bowden are among the departed, as is college basketball reporter C.L. Brown, who actually found out about his departure while on vacation in Spain. “Landed in Madrid,” he Tweeted to his 12,000 followers. “Turned on phone 1st time all vacation. Got texts asking if job was safe. Found out it was not. Enjoyed my 4 years, ESPN.” And while they’re not officially let go, reports indicate that Karl Ravech, Ryen Russillo, and Hannah Storm will see their roles “significantly reduced.”
Landed in Madrid. Turned on phone 1st time all vacation. Got texts asking if job was safe. Found out it was not. Enjoyed my 4 years, ESPN.
— C.L. Brown (@clscribe) April 26, 2017
Layoffs at the company come after a period of continual decline for ESPN. Their subscriber base (how they get most of their revenue) has been in freefall over recent years, with no signs of a turnaround as more and more people cut cable.
ESPN has said little on the releases, simply saying they had to make these difficult decisions thanks to a constantly changing landscape. “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.” The company’s statement closed with thanks to those released.
People officially released per their own Twitter account include: