Woke Disney is ready to pare its payroll by the thousands, and its ESPN cable sports network has hundreds of heads on the chopping block. Company insiders reported that no one is safe from the entertainment giant’s massive cutbacks.
The New York Post reported that there will be no “sacred cows” at the network, which is expecting the cuts to be announced in the next four to six weeks. Everyone from top on-air talent to corporate executives are fair game.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said last month that 7,000 jobs would be eliminated, so the reported 4,000 positions going away may be just the start.
His cuts are part of the overall plan to trim $5.5 billion from Disney’s budget. The company has suffered several box office flops, its streaming service has yet to become a viable revenue stream, and it is being pummeled by political trouble in Florida over its leftist policies.
Layoffs are coming despite reported profits of $23.51 billion, which edged past expectations.
NEWS: ESPN is planning layoffs and there are no "sacred cows," according to sources.
Full details in column https://t.co/Q3dWqndIDe
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 20, 2023
ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro reportedly instructed department heads to identify employees who are “redundant and disposable.” There is, however, no set number on how many people the sports giant must cut loose or how many millions must be saved.
The cable sports network opened the checkbook in recent years with huge contracts for top announcing talent. Troy Aikman pulls down $18 million per year, Joe Buck makes $15 million annually, and network mouthpiece Stephen A. Smith is paid $12 million.
The current crunch is reportedly influencing negotiations for college football announcer Chris Fowler. He and the network are currently far apart in talks over his present $3 million per year contract.
Sources say the staff with the most to worry about are those making in the neighborhood of seven figures but are not believed to be rating boosters. Job security is reportedly enjoyed by only Smith, “SportsCenter” anchor Scott Van Pelt, and the “Monday Night Football” crew.
ESPN fell into controversies in recent years as there has been a noticeable leftward turn in its programming.
Despite its troubles, the network is still perceived as a financial positive for struggling Disney. Most expect its newly separated earnings reports to reveal a profitable enterprise that is being streamlined to bring greater monetary success.