ESPN made news today with the announcement that it will “layoff” 100 staff members.
I’ve personally been of the opinion that ESPN has been bloated with on-air talent for a while. How many white bald former NFL QBs do you need on one show? Especially when you can’t tell them apart?
It was easy to add more talking heads when ESPN’s cable affiliate fees increased every year and everyone subscribed to cable. ESPN was a cash machine. It still is but the disintermediation of linear TV means ESPN is losing cable subscribers.
Recode put together this chart showing the loss of 10 million ESPN subscribers over the last 5 years.
ESPN’s affiliate fee growth is more than enough to offset the loss of cable subscribers, for now. But when your other costs, sports rights fees, continue to increase too then you need to have one less bald white former NFL QB on your shows.