Over at ESPN, the line has been drawn in the sand for a while now regarding the network’s downward spiral. From harsh partings with longtime vets to a startling dip in subscribers, the sports network is a shadow of what it once was, and that’s definitely true today, as around 100 of ESPN’s TV and digital on-air personalities are getting fired today, with many of them already going down this morning, including longtime analyst Ed Werder. This number is quite higher than the one previously reported.
ESPN President John Skipper sent out a post earlier that announced the layoffs in a manner that makes it sound as non-devastating as possible, stating he and others will “implement changes in our talent lineup this week” after “engaging in the challenging process of determining” which of its 1,000 or so on-air personalities apparently weren’t expected to meet the “increased focus on versatility and value.” There’s nothing quite like showing up to work to find out that you and your colleagues are all on the chopping block together, only to have to wait for someone to possibly come by and hand over the walking papers.
Seemingly no one beyond the biggest names — such as the Monday Night Football team — is safe from ESPN’s axes, either. While the network continues to recenter its attempts to conquer the digital side, both sides are losing anchors, reporters, play-by-play talent and more with this swift change. (The “100” total reported by CNBC has been floating around.) And it’s not just on-air folks, either, since there are also writers and other employees facing termination as well. All in all, it’s a very dark day for ESPN and its fanbase, though there is a polite appreciation embedded in many of the tweets and announcements from the now-fired journalists and former athletes
Take, for instance, the aforementioned Ed Werder, who joined ESPN nearly two decades ago, and is largely known for reporting on NFL games, particularly when the Dallas Cowboys were involved. Having previously been set to cover the New Orleans Saints’ Draft selection meeting during this week’s annual event, Werder got the call on the same day he found out his dog was dying. Here’s his farewell.
Longtime MLB reporter Jayson Stark? Gone. Longtime host Jay Crawford? Gone. NBA reporter Ethan Strauss? Gone. NHL columnists Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside and Joe McDonald? Gone. Former NFL quarterback turned analyst Trent Dilfer? Gone. And the names do and will go on.
It’s unclear when a complete list of names will be compiled so that we can all witness the enormity of the layoffs, but all it takes is a quick search of “ESPN” on Twitter to see a river of hopeful posts from former employees. While waiting to see what madness happens next, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.