Disney’s ESPN hasn’t had big layoffs since 2009. But with rivals such as Fox Sports 1 looming, NBC Sports Network and others new on the scene, ESPN has been spending big money lately to on sports rights. They don’t come without a cost: ESPN’s 12-year deal announced in November to televise the new college football playoff system will be worth about $470 million annually. The current four-year contract to air the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls along with the BCS title game is worth about $125 million a year, noted an AP story.
Reports say some 300-400 jobs are being eliminated, and include unfilled positions. ESPN has about 7,000 employees worldwide, with about 4,000 at its HQ in Bristol, CT. The vast majority work behind the scenes.
“We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs,” ESPN said in a statement. “While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.”
While announcing cuts 5/21, ESPN will still be expanding in other areas. Earlier this month, it revealed that it was forming a network with the Southeastern Conference. The new network will launch in August 2014 under a 20-year deal.
In April, Disney laid off about 150 people at LucasArts, the video-game making division of Lucasfilm, four months after acquiring the company behind “Star Wars” for $4.06 billion. Disney also laid off about the same number at the movie studio in April to cope with the decline in DVD sales as consumer habits shift to digital forms of home entertainment.