ESPN plans to lay off 300 employees and leave another 200 positions unfilled, the network said Thursday.
In a company memo obtained by CNBC, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro told staffers the sports network must cut jobs because of the changing media landscape and financial challenges caused by COVID-19.
“After much consideration, I have some difficult organizational decisions to share. We will be reducing our workforce, impacting approximately 300 valued team members, in addition to 200 open positions,” Pitaro wrote in the memo.
“The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever,” he continued.
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Pitaro added that ESPN has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports,” he wrote. “In the short term, we enacted various steps like executive and talent salary reductions, furloughs and budget cuts, and we implemented innovative operations and production approaches, all in an effort to weather the COVID storm. We have, however, reached an inflection point.”
ESPN is headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut and has approximately 6,000 employees worldwide, according to the network’s website.
Parent company Disney has also been hard hit by the pandemic. In September, Disney said it planned to lay off 28,000 workers at its Disneyland and Disney World theme parks because of financial losses caused by the pandemic as well as California’s refusal to ease coronavirus restrictions.