ESPN has asked its highest-paid commentators to take pay cuts as the Disney universe continues to adjust to the widespread economic carnage of the coronavirus pandemic, including a world without live sports.
“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,” ESPN said in a statement Monday.
The company declined comment beyond that, but we have learned that the request is for a three-month, 15% salary cut for the highest-paid commentators as ESPN attempts to avoid further furloughs and continue weekly paychecks for other ESPN employees who may be more financially at risk.
Pay cuts and furloughs have been moving across Disney divisions. On March 30, Disney told its staff that executive chairman Bob Iger will forgo his entire salary, that new CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut, and that other executives would see reductions on a sliding scale as of April 5. VPs, SVPs, and EVPs and above were in for cuts of, respectively, 20%, 25% and 30%.
Then on April 2 the giant conglom announced it would furlough all employees whose jobs “weren’t immediately necessary” as of April 19, although it would continue to provide health benefits and pay premiums. The furloughs began at the parks division which is heavily hit with parks closed and revenue vanished. But they have been cycling across the rest of the company, hitting the film studio last week, especially distribution.
Over the weekend, Disney and unions said 43,000 employees will be furloughed at Walt Disney Word in Florida, following agreements to furlough thousands of others at the California parks.