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A Struggling ESPN Lays Off Many On-Air Figures

“ESPN was wrapped in Teflon for many years, but big payouts for rights fees plus significant losses in their subscriber base were like punches to the gut and head, and now the company is trying to make sure they are strong enough to fight in the future,” said James Andrew Miller, who wrote a book on ESPN and has contributed to The New York Times. “They’ve decided one way to do this is to change their approach to content and rely more heavily on digital; this has enabled them to let go of a big chunk of their talent base.”

In October 2015, ESPN laid off about 300 people, most of whom were not on camera. The network has been periodically culling its staff as it searches for ways to cut costs and adapts to changing consumer habits, with fans increasingly watching video clips on their smartphones at the expense of traditional highlight shows like “SportsCenter.” With ESPN locked into long-term contracts for programming rights with various sports leagues, savings must primarily come from a reduced staff.

In a letter to employees on Wednesday, ESPN’s president, John Skipper, acknowledged the “difficult decisions” ahead…

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