ESPN confirms layoffs, publishes ‘content evolution strategy’ involving digital growth
New effort to boost its app, including adding more live news video and audio streaming, is way for the channel, locked into cable deals, to cope with declining viewer numbers
There are rumors that you want to be true – like Game of Thrones being cancelled (just kidding, fans) – and then there are rumors involving the media (generally about layoffs) which you hope are mistaken. The rumors about ESPN have proved true.
Today, ESPN confirmed what Sporting News and other websites (including this one) have warned about, that there would be layoffs involving on-air talent. ESPN president John Skipper confirmed the news in a memo which ESPN itself published, though he gave few details.
ESPN also published an announcement titled ESPN’s content evolution strategy which lays out the network’s strategy going forward.
The elements of that strategy include creating more digital-only content socially and on the company’s app; adding more content and live programming on to that app; as well other digital initiatives utilizing ESPN brands.
In other words… digital did it to another media brand.
ESPN has been leaking subscribers, due to the fact that cable TV itself has been leaking subscribers. The network is caught in a bind: it is not a premium channel like HBO or ShowTime, so can’t create a separate sales channel outside of cable; and the new TV options rumored from Apple and others have not materialized fast enough to stem the losses (though Google recently launched its must anticipated service).