It was a rough day in Bristol, Conn.
ESPN cut loose upwards of 100 employees in a significant round of layoffs forced by the combined pressure of expensive league contracts, declining advertising revenue, and a steady loss of subscribers due to cord-cutting.
One ESPN staffer speaking on the condition of anonymity said staff members knew these cuts were coming, but many are still "in shock."
"It's worse than anyone thought," the source said.
Longtime reporter Ed Werder, a staple of the network's NFL coverage over the years, announced Wednesday morning he was one of the staffers let go. Werder had been assigned to cover this year's NFL draft, which starts tomorrow in Philadelphia.
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 (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2017
While surprised and disappointed, I was fortunate to have worked @espn with so many devoted, talented journalists. I will always be grateful
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2017
Longtime baseball analyst Jayson Stark was also among those being shown the door. Stark, who spent 17 years with ESPN, was a well-known fixture on Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter. Prior to joining ESPN, he covered the Phillies before becoming a columnist for the Inquirer, and still appears every Wednesday with Mike Missanelli to talk baseball on 97.5 The Fanatic.
For 17 yrs I've had a dream job covering baseball for ESPN. Today is my last day. Thanks to all the great people at ESPN, MLB & all of you!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 26, 2017
Former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer, one of the network's most prominent NFL analysts, has also been let go after nine years with ESPN.
Laid off by ESPN today.Although sad cause I loved my job, mostly filled w/gratitude & appreciation for the 9 years #GreatFriendsAndTeammates
— Trent Dilfer (@TDESPN) April 26, 2017
Danny Kanell, the co-host of Russillo and Kanell on ESPN Radio with Ryen Russillo, also found out today he was being let go. Kanell, a former quarterback for the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, joined ESPN back in 2010 as a college football analyst. There's been no word yet on Russillo's status, though his show was hosted today by anchor Adnan Virk.
Poured my heart and soul into ESPN for last 8 years. Moved my wife and 3 kids to CT to go "all in" 5 years ago. Bummed it ended in 3 minutes
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 26, 2017
ESPN senior writer Dana O'Neil, a hoops expert and a past president of the United States Basketball Writers Association, was also among the cuts. O’Neil, a Penn State graduate, covered the Phillies, Eagles, and Villanova basketball for the Philadelphia Daily News prior to joining ESPN.
Add me to the list. Just got the 'call.' I've been informed my contract will not be renewed at ESPN.
— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) April 26, 2017
Here is a roundup of ESPN staffers announcing they've been let go. This list will be updated:
Baseball analyst Doug Glanville (via the Wednesday Night Baseball crew):
SportsCenter anchor Jaymee Sire
I was only at ESPN for 4 years, but they were some of the best of my career. Thanks to all of the fans and to my entire SportsCenterAM crew. pic.twitter.com/gxKuUh13ck
— Jaymee Sire (@jaymee) April 26, 2017
SportsCenter anchor Jade McCarthy
Proud of my time at ESPN-Proud of the great ppl there & those like me w a future elsewhere-Proud to soon be mom of 3 w a bright career ahead pic.twitter.com/ABhgJQkQ9f
— Jade McCarthy (@JadeMcCarthy) April 26, 2017
PGA analyst Dottie Pepper
My time with ESPN comes to a close today as I join the sidelines with so many other talented… https://t.co/8wV4O1H3G2
— Dottie Pepper (@Dottie_Pepper) April 26, 2017
Outside the Lines reporter Tom Farrey
— Tom Farrey (@TomFarrey) April 26, 2017
College basketball analyst Len Elmore
Gee, I feel like I am now part of an exclusive club. #ESPNLayoff. For 21 yrs. I tried to represent the best in college hoops. Adios Bristol!
— Len Elmore (@LenElmore) April 26, 2017
NBA reporter Calvin Watkins
After seven great years at ESPN I've been let go. Much respect to all the people.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) April 26, 2017
NBA reporter Justin Verrier
No longer at ESPN. Thank you to everyone who read and supported me throughout my 9 years there. Means more than you can know.
— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) April 26, 2017
espnW columnist Melissa Isaacson
Sorry to get the call from ESPN this a.m., but grateful for my eight years there and trying to positively look ahead.
— Melissa Isaacson (@mkisaacson) April 26, 2017
Announcer Chris Hassel
Debate is over. Losing your iPhone is worse than losing your job. If I lost my iPhone, how could I post about how I lost my job today?
— Chris Hassel (@Hassel_Chris) April 26, 2017
College sports reporter Chantel Jennings
Like many others, I got the call today from ESPN that today would be my last with them. A few parting words: https://t.co/pBfnewUHIG
— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) April 26, 2017
ESPN Radio First and Last co-host Robin Lundberg
Today was my last day on air at ESPN Radio. On to the next...I'll let everyone know what that is when I do. pic.twitter.com/1wTnGfRVcW
— Robin Lundberg (@robinlundberg) April 26, 2017
SportsCenter anchor Jay Crawford
After 14 wonderful years my time at espn is over. From Cold Pizza to First Take to SC I made more friends than I can name. Forever grateful! pic.twitter.com/WNkUGuXeVl
— Jay Crawford (@jaycrawfordespn) April 26, 2017
SEC football reporter David Ching
Some personal news pic.twitter.com/jLvoHel3Iv
— David Ching (@ESPNChing) April 26, 2017
NFL reporter Ashley Fox (also a former Inquirer reporter)
I had a great 6+ years at ESPN, but it's over. I will badly miss all the talented folks there, many of whom I call dear friends. #Onward
— Ashley Fox (@AshleyFoxESPN) April 26, 2017
Big Ten reporter Brian Bennett
Like far too many other ESPN colleagues today, I’ve been laid off. Enjoyed nine great years here. Thanks for reading and following along.
— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) April 26, 2017
Pac 12 Reporter Ted Miller
Started at ESPN in 2008, but my tenure ended today. Worked w/ some great folks who are now friends. Onward to new challenges.
— Ted Miller (@TedMillerRK) April 26, 2017
espnW columnist Jane McManus
Super Bowls, The Trifecta and stories like the one up now are the moments I'll take with me into free agency starting tomorrow.
— Jane McManus (@janesports) April 26, 2017
College basketball reporter C.L. Brown
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 (@clbrownespn) April 26, 2017
Big 12 reporter Max Olson
I got laid off by ESPN today after an amazing 5+ years. I've been unbelievably fortunate. Better days ahead.
— Max Olson (@max_olson) April 26, 2017
MLB reporter Doug Padilla
Rough day. Just learned I will no longer be covering the Dodgers. Enjoyed my 7 years at ESPN. On to the next chapter.
— Doug Padilla (@DougPadilla) April 26, 2017
ESPN columnist Johnette Howard
I just found out I'm among the layoffs at ESPN today. Enjoyed my eight years there immensely. Looking forward to what's next.
— Johnette Howard (@JohnetteHoward) April 26, 2017
SEC recruiting analyst Derek Tyson
After 5 incredible years, I was laid off today by ESPN. I met & worked w/ some great people & I am very grateful to ESPN for the opportunity
— Derek Tyson (@DerekJTyson) April 26, 2017
College football reporter Jeremy Crabtree
— Jeremy Crabtree (@jeremycrabtree) April 26, 2017
NFL reporter Jean-Jacques Taylor
It's ironic ESPN laid me off the same day as my first partner on the cowboys @Edwerderespn. I haven't been a FA in forever. This shud be fun
— Jean-Jacques Taylor (@JJT_Journalist) April 26, 2017
MLB reporter Mark Saxon
Well, I'm a free agent. I learned a lot in eight years with ESPN and benefitted from being around a lot of smart people
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) April 26, 2017
College basketball writer Eamonn Brennan
Bad news morning. I loved every bit of my eight years at ESPN and will miss it, and so many friends and colleagues there, profoundly.
— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) April 26, 2017
MLB insider Jim Bowden (former GM of the Reds and Nationals)
I feel blessed & privileged to have worked @ESPN and most importantly work w/ so many great people.Thank you. I look forward to what's next
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenMLB) April 26, 2017
College football reporter Brett McMurphy
After 5 great years, I’ve been laid off by ESPN. It was a tremendous opportunity & I enjoyed working w/a lot of really, really good people
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) April 26, 2017
College football reporter Jesse Temple
Like other colleagues, I've been informed I am no longer working for ESPN. This is a crummy day, but I'll never stop pursuing my passion.
— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) April 26, 2017
Big Ten reporter Austin Ward
I've been informed that I'm no longer employed at ESPN. Greatly enjoyed covering the B1G, and will immediately try to find a new challenge!
— Austin Ward (@AWardESPN) April 26, 2017
Soccer writer Mike Goodman
And hey, it turns out one of those people is me. Loved my time at ESPN, and now it's time to figure out what's next.
— Mike L. Goodman (@TheM_L_G) April 26, 2017
ESPNU anchor Brendan Fitzgerald
— Brendan Fitzgerald (@BrendanFitzESPN) April 26, 2017
NHL columnist Pierre LeBrun
Well folks, as you can tell by my new Twitter handle, I was also among the cuts today at ESPN.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 26, 2017
NHL reporter Joe McDonald
After nearly eight years of covering the NHL, MLB and the NFL at ESPN, it's time for the next chapter in my career.
— Joe McDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac) April 26, 2017
NHL columnist Scott Burnside
After 13 years of sticks and pucks can share that as of today my tenure at ESPN is at a close. I look forward to the next adventure.
— Scott Burnside (@OvertimeScottB) April 26, 2017
In addition to the cuts to on-air staff and reporters, the Charlotte Observer reports that ESPN is moving its ESPNU studio from Charlotte to the network’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.. The move will reportedly involve fewer than 10 layoffs.
“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company," ESPN CEO John Skipper said in a memo sent to employees Wednesday morning, noting that a “limited number of other positions” will also be affected by this latest round of job cuts. A handful of new job openings will also be posted.
“These layoffs were not mandated by [ESPN owner] Disney but are best example yet that Skipper, despite strong content roots, is aware of biz imperatives,” wrote James Miller, an ESPN expert and author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN. “ESPN is no longer invincible.”
If you are dreaming of being on air at @espn in coming years, here are two words to keep in mind: Versatility & Value.
— jamesmiller (@JimMiller) April 26, 2017
On Monday, staff writer Paul Kuharsky, who covers the Tennessee Titans for ESPN, confirmed he was one of the staffers being let go.
Knew cuts were coming. Sad to say nine great years at ESPN end for me in July. Please stay tuned to @Midday180.
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) April 24, 2017
Last month, longtime ESPN Mets reporter Adam Rubin said during an interview for The -30- newsletter that he left the network for a PR job at the New York Institute of Technology because he found out his contract wasn’t going to be renewed.
“ESPN seems to be bleeding money because of cord-cutting, so my salary was unattractive to them,” said Rubin, who is still planning to do a Sunday morning baseball-themed radio show on ESPN 98.7 in New York this season. “And the new MLB editor at ESPN wants to get away from 'thorough' beat coverage — that’s the precise word she used — and I suppose I was the sacrificial lamb to hammer home that point.”
Disney reported disappointing first-quarter fiscal results back in February, primarily because of weak performance by ESPN and the company's media networks. Advertising revenue declined 7 percent compared to the first quarter last year while programming costs increased, including a new NBA deal that costs the network $1.4 billion a year, a 143 percent increase over its previous contract with the league.
ESPN also continues to lose subscribers because of the trend of cord-cutting. According to Nielsen, the network had 88.4 million subscribers in December 2016, down from 100.002 million in February 2011, though ESPN disagrees with Nielsen’s numbers. ESPN earns about $6.50 per subscriber per month.
Unlike a 2015 round of layoffs that claimed around 300 staffers, this round of layoffs will spare behind-the-scenes staff. ESPN will also reportedly buy out the contracts of some well-known hosts.
ESPN declined comment about the job cuts. The network has about 8,000 employees across the globe.
This is a breaking news report. Check back for updates.