ESPN will be laying off another 300 staffers from its 8,000-member workforce, following about the same number of cutbacks made two years ago.
But no worries: Content is still king -- and employees are simply what’s needed to run the kingdom.
Much has been made of ESPN losing pay TV subscribers -- now down to 91.8 million from 98.9 million two years ago. ESPN continues to spent a lot on sports programming -- including college football (and its new playoffs) as well as the National Football League and the National Basketball League.
What are ESPN’s specific goals with the layoff and restructuring? According to a letter to employees from John Skipper, president of ESPN, there is a need to be “integrating emerging technology into all aspects of our business” and “enhancing our sales and marketing efforts with new tools and techniques.
Listening to TV analysts recently, you probably heard much about how sports TV programming has been looked to as a savior for traditional, linear TV networks -- that sports, because of its nature to watch it live, is a premium attraction. And that means higher prices for marketers to pay for ads.
So then why make a cutback? Insiders believe as the TV world is moving even more to a fragmented user/viewing marketplace, that cable sports channels may have tougher time in a future a la carte world.
Critics say non-sport TV viewers have been essentially subsidizing sports TV networks at part of their overall, heavily priced pay TV programming packages. New OTT platforms might help give those viewers a real choice.
TV networks say it is all about the content -- that because content is still king, and because TV networks have the resources to develop and/or acquire programming -- they are best positioned in a growing digital media world where they will be key players.
But will media company staffing layoffs be a key part of this strategy?