ESPN just released a statement confirming the cuts, which were first reported by Deadspin. Said the company: “We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.” If the language sounds familiar, it’s because it is: ESPN is 80% owned by Disney (Hearst owns the other 20%), which has gone division by division to cut costs over the past month or so. Layoffs have already hit the Walt Disney Studios unit (150 layoffs in film, theatrical and music departments) and shuttered LucasArts, the video game division of Disney’s newly acquired Lucasfilm. Previously, Disney Interactive laid off about 50 employees. Now not even super-profitable ESPN, which has about 7,000 employees overall, is immune to the cost-cutting review, and with recent major purchases of spendy live sports rights (the college football playoffs and U.S. Open tennis among the recent deals) it looks like they’ve been told to tighten the ship.
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