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ESPN layoffs begin: 150 studio, production jobs cut in latest round

This Sept. 16, 2013, file photo shows the ESPN logo prior to an NFL football game.
| David Kohl/AP

BRISTOL, Conn. — ESPN says it is eliminating 150 studio and production employees as the sports broadcasting giant continues to shift its focus to a more digital future.

The company says the layoffs, which were announced Wednesday morning in a memo to employees, don’t include on-air talent and will have a minimal impact on the network’s signature SportsCenter news program.

The company says it will grow its business in several key areas, including the planned launch early next year of “ESPN+”, an app-based service that will allow viewers to purchase sporting events a la carte.

ESPN President John Skipper sent this statement to staffers:

“Today we are informing approximately 150 people at ESPN that their jobs are being eliminated.

“We appreciate their contributions, and will assist them as much as possible in this difficult moment with severance, a 2017 bonus, the continuation of health benefits and outplacement services. They will also appreciate your support.

“The majority of the jobs eliminated are in studio production, digital content, and technology and they generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources.

“We will continue to invest in ways which will best position us to serve the modern sports fan and support the success of our business.”

The 38-year-old network has been squeezed by rising fees to broadcast live events. ESPN also has lost about 10 million subscribers during the past six years, based on estimates by Nielsen Media Research.

The sports broadcaster has about 8,000 employees worldwide. ESPN laid off 100 employees in April, including some longtime on-air personalities.