ESPN (NYSE:DIS) is preparing to lay off more than 100 employees after Thanksgiving amid subscriber losses and other business-related challenges for the Disney-owned brand, according to a report Thursday.
The layoffs will impact ESPN across several job descriptions, including on-air talent, producers, executives and others, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. SportsCenter, the network’s flagship news program, is expected to see a large portion of the cuts.
The purported layoffs come months after ESPN cut ties with roughly 100 employees, including some of its most prominent on-air personalities. At the time, ESPN President John Skipper said the cuts were part of an “increased focus on versatility and value,” adding that ESPN would pour more resources into its digital and mobile programming. ESPN previously laid off about 300 employees in Oct. 2015.
ESPN has yet to comment on the purported layoffs.
Once the most profitable wing of Disney’s media properties, ESPN has struggled in recent years amid the rise of cord-cutting and cheaper digital streaming options like Netflix. The cable sports network has lost roughly 13 million paid subscribers since 2011, erasing tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue, while also paying record sums for television rights to NFL and NBA games.
Disney is set to launch an ESPN-branded over-the-top subscription service next as part of its strategy to address the subscriber losses.
At the same time, ESPN has faced allegations of political bias in its coverage. Network executives have repeatedly denied the accusations and earlier this month released a new social media policy for employees. The policy urges ESPN employees to avoid political discussions on social platforms.
Disney CEO Robert Iger remained supportive of ESPN’s efforts during an earnings call with analysts on Thursday.