ESPN Apocalypse is today

“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands,” Skipper wrote to employees. “We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”[/quote]

ESPN’s strategy is to focus more on audio video streaming.

Wow. A lot of good people on the list. Jim Bowden, Jayson Stark, Karl Ravech, both Russillo and Kannel, Ethan Sherwood-Strauss. Basically, half of my sports podcast list just got ruined.

Oh no Trent Dilfer!

ESPN has been losing a lot of money lately. They have also failed in trying to re-brand themselves as some kind of sports-cultural-social thing.

ESPN Sportscenter is like the newspaper sports page now, if you really care about some game or person you can find out on line in seconds, so why watch a bad TV program.

Also, how many people do you need to cover each team, each sport etc.

From what I have seen only Kannel is out for sure. However Ravich and Rusillo will have their roles reduced.

As some others have noted, the cuts here mostly came from reporters and researchers who do the heavy infrastructure lifting for the talking heads and bloviators. (Side note, I saw the Bloviators open for the Talking Heads at the Kiel Opera House in 1985.) (Second side note: I made that first side note up completely.)

And the worst thing?

ESPN is on year 6 of a 20 year contract to pay the University of Texas $15 million per year for the LongHorn Network. Now I realize that BuckleVision is a formidable cable TV presence with content that is nightly enjoyed by dozens, but the guys who put that turkey of a deal together all have their jobs still. (As of year five, BuckleVision has suffered a $48 million dollar loss…so far. Hopefully women’s indoor lacrosse, or whatever they’re televising this month will pull some big numbers for them.)

I’ll bet Stephen A. Smith still has a job.

Yup. Sure does.

Mike Brown poured one out for Sherwood-Strauss at the Warriors presser today.

Disney stock up .35% (DJ down .10%), FWIW

I haven’t heard of a single one of these people who were laid off. Clearly, I’m part of the problem.


Particularly maddening to me in this are people suggesting it’s ESPN’s liberal agenda that brought this about, when it’s driven by cord-cutting and carriage fees.

The Longhorn Network was clearly a boondoggle, but if it helps ESPN maintain a grip on the all-important live events, I wonder if they’ll just have to grimace and eat it.

Cord cutting is a minor piece of this issue, really. Cord cutting is a thing but it isn’t nearly the cliff that it’s made out to be.

The issue rests on the rights fees ESPN has incurred. The NBA contract in particular is just silliness. ESPN pays about $6b annually in rights fees. They took in $7.2b in 2016 in revenue. We can all do that math on what those margins look like.

Where cord-cutting comes in is that for ESPN to have bid what they bid to keep the NBA in February of 2016 required them to either ignore realistic coverage projections or to make up unrealistic ones and hope they came out OK.

I’m not sure what the solution is there. Live events is everything and it drives all the other programming as well. Maybe more partnerships with other entities, like Turner, NBCSN, CBSSN… but not Fox; they need to keep their foot on those guys.

I do think their hand was forced in keeping SAS to continue to fight the debate wars with FS1, but then again, they were just slightly outbid to keep the loathsome Skip from leaving last year. I do enjoy seeing how Undefeated is beaten regularly by Bubble Guppies and reruns of MASH.

Yikes, this post was all over the place.

Thing is, ESPN has all those rights…but they really don’t take advantage. They’d rather fill time with shouty people yelling at one another in pre-scripted outrage.

That’s the worst of it. The cuts were primarily to providers of substance (especially in the regional ESPNs), so they can focus on pointless blabbing without distractions like stats and knowledge and shit.

Well, I don’t think the liberal agenda is helping things.

I, for one, look forward to the death of sportsball in all its myriad forms!

But seriously

  • who is the NBA gonna sell rights to for that price in the future?

  • what kind of service is ESPN when they suddenly don’t have the rights to show a core sport like NBA?

A hard rain is gonna fall, my friends, on the just and unjust alike.

Yep, if you have a cable or satellite subscription, whether you watch ESPN or not, you’re paying ESPN over $80 a year.

What does ESPN do with that money?

It buys sports rights.

Where can I get a copy of this liberal agenda that people keep mentioning?

Outkick the Coverage has been pretty thorough.

Edit: You can read it from ESPN’s own ombudsman, they’ve picked a side and they mean to stay true to that vision.