ESPN Asks Talent For A 15% Pay Cut, Sees Lower Ad Revenues, Viewer Impressions

In the wake of asking its major on-air talent to take a 15% salary cut, ESPN, with virtually no live sports to air, continues to be hit hard in terms of lower viewer impressions -- and as a result, sinking advertising revenue.

Total impressions over the month-long period from March 12 though April 12 have dropped by two-thirds to 6.7 billion -- pulling in an estimated $112.4 million in paid national TV advertising, according to

year before, over the same time period, impressions averaged 18.8 billion, with an estimated $175.6 million in paid national TV advertising. Highly rated live programming came from NBA and NCAA basketball.

Top paid advertisers during the current period include GEICO, Wendy’s, Burger King, Popeyes, Domino’s, State Farm, Cricket Wireless, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Robin Hood Financial, American Red Cross, H&R Block, and Liberty Mutual.



Marketers that have lowered their spend versus a year ago include major automakers and mobile communications marketers such as Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Boost Mobile.

Over the month-long period, ESPN has aired 1,728 promotional spots for ESPN programming and its brand.

Sister company Disney+ --the new premium video service -- had 261 airings of its advertising spots. Another sister unit, ABC Television Network, had 175 promo airings.

Sports Business Daily reported that ESPN was asking 100 of its top on-air talent to take a “voluntary” 15% pay cut.

This comes at the same time that sister company Disney World will be furloughing 45,000 Disney employees due to COVID-19.

A statement from ESPN to Television News Daily said: “We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction. These are challenging times and we are all in this together."

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