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Familiar names among the massive layoffs at ESPN today (UPDATING throughout the day)

It’s a rough day for the folks up in Bristol. According to The Sporting News, ESPN is laying off close to 100 employees today, including on-air and online reporters, anchors, reporters, analysts, and production staffers. While the names of those laid off won’t be made public (and rightly so), several are taking to social media to share the news, including longtime college basketball reporter Dana O’Neil:

And veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder:

Also, NFL writer Paul Kuharksky, who Matt clashed with on the Midday 180 a few weeks back:

The Hollywood Reporter is also reporting that ESPN personalities Ryen Russillo, Hannah Storm, and Baseball Tonight‘s Karl Ravitch’s roles will be “significantly reduced.” ESPN president John Skipper confirmed the layoffs this morning in a statement, essentially saying that the Worldwide Leader was forced to make cuts to keep up with the changing landscape of sports media (I read that as more “hot takes,” less actual reporting):

A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. Our content strategy — primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand — still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble.  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.  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.

While the writing’s been on the wall with ESPN for a while, it’s never fun to see people lose their jobs. Best of luck to those affected.

UPDATE: Add veteran college football reporter Brett McMurphy to the list…

And college hoops reporter Eamonn Brennan:

And former Courier-Journal sportswriter C.L. Brown:

Wow. No one is safe in Bristol today.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

65 Comments for Familiar names among the massive layoffs at ESPN today (UPDATING throughout the day)

  1. Mc12
    11:20 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    I watched ESPN a ton growing up, but now I only watch games or any content specific show such as College Gameday that isn’t a roundtable of people spewing their personal opinions about non-sport topics like it’s The View. I can get that commentary elsewhere. Hearing talking points like for example Max Kellerman babbling on about “white privilege” when millions and millions of white people are poor, or on drugs, or struggling to make ends meet is odd for sports talk. Then, am I to say I had white privilege when I grew up in a mainly black neighborhood, from a poor family that struggled? I knew the one way to change my circumstances was education. So I worked hard to get anything that I have today. I know someone may debate this, but there seems to be an answer for everyone and that is taking school seriously, and working hard to do better.

    • InigoMontoya
      12:22 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      How dare you mention “hard work”? Don’t you know that that may offend a snowflake & “trigger them”?

      This is America; we’re supposed to get stuff for free.

    • tombanjo
      1:07 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      what does your personal opinion have to do with sports?

    • bhb71
      4:38 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      The problem is that a lot of people in poverty, a disproportionate amount of whom are black people, don’t have access to a great education and often live in environments that aren’t conducive to a child being able to grow up “normally” and focus on education. How are you going to expect a person that grew up in a home with no father and had no one around him/her that could serve as a role model to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps?” The majority of people in poverty, black and white, were set up for failure from the get-go. Look at all the kids in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky that never make it out of poverty, die young, and get hooked on heroine?

      The problem with people like Max Kellerman is that they focus too much on race and not enough on poverty. The sooner we shift the conversation from race to poverty, the better.

    • catdaddyd
      8:55 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Then blame the dads for not being there to raise their kids. As far as education goes, get a job at UPS or another company and they will pay for your education.

  2. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    11:24 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    Disney took too many left-leaning stances and ESPN ran out of entertaining ideas for shows…pushed out over too many channels.

  3. UK Fan In Nashville
    11:25 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    This is quite shocking. They can spend $10 Billion buying the rights to the SEC, but they can’t afford $40,000 for quality reporting. Something must seriously be wrong.

    • donjohnson
      1:25 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Did you read the REAL article…..not this on here. A lot of the big names were making up to 3 mil per year

    • Laker Cat 18
      1:32 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      That’s the problem in itself. No one in that business should be making $3 million per year. Should have cut some of those salaries instead of mass layoffs.

  4. Sentient Third Eye
    11:25 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    ESPN needs to get back to focusing on sports while ignoring all the social and political stuff that 0.00% of sports fans care about DURING sports time.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      11:28 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Sports is about an escape from all the other stuff, but when they artificially crowd it into sports, it completely destroys the escapism effect. Not recognizing this makes ESPN completely out-of-touch.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      11:32 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Well said.
      I also think that true sports fans get sick of hearing these regurgitated opinions of uninformed sports personalities when anyone who actually watches the games can tell the opinions are dumb.

    • catsarerunnin
      1:10 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I use to watch ESPN for scores and highlights. They did it better than anybody and without opinions and certainly without anything political. They got away from what they did best.

  5. Bluebloodtoo
    11:26 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    ESPN and other sports groups need to figure out another billing model. I’m not going to pay Comcast $150/month anymore to get 150 channels I don’t watch and 10 channels I do watch. I’d gladly pay ESPN $20/month to get access to all the live games and web content.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      11:32 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

      About six bucks of your cable bill is ESPN. All the ESPNs together are still less than fifteen in any market. The problem is that the FCC will not allow cable companies to sell programming ala carte. Fix that, and then Comcast could sell you just what you want.

    • theWilkman
      11:37 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

      It’s not the FCC, it’s the traditional media companies. If it was a la carte, 90% of the channels would be abandoned, thus limiting the amount of ad space available to sell. Follow the money.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      11:54 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Yes, the programmers are the ones on the other side who want to keep their gravy train going, but the FCC is the one with the power. Their current rules are the ones that empower the programmers thusly.

    • bhb71
      12:06 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Online streaming is your friend. If you know where to look, you can find college basketball, football, NHL, and NBA streams for free. I recommend searching on Reddit. If you can get something like a Raspberry Pi hooked up to your TV, you can stream all the games in your living room like regular TV.

    • Mathlete
      1:22 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      The FCC doesn’t care, other channels already sell their access over the web only (HBO, for example). The FCC would only get involved if they started showing a lot of nudity and swearing constantly.

      Who actually cares are the cable companies who would lose millions more subscribers – me, for example – if ESPN offered a web-only version. ESPN would get so much less money out of them on the next round of contract negotiations that their internal projections probably say they’d lose money in the long run.

    • Laker Cat 18
      1:33 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      You can get all of ESPN on Sling TV for $20/month right now.

    • Peas and Carrots
      4:35 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I was going to mention sling tv too. I added the sports package and have every espn and SEC network for $25/month.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      2:10 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      As someone directly involved in the industry, I can tell you first-hand that every cable company in the country desperately wants to sell ala carte services and “skinny bundles”, but they are not allowed to do so, and the fact that they cannot is the single largest frustration in the industry. Trying to get the FCC to end the programmer’s ability to force unwanted channel bundles on everyone is the # 1 topic during all industry lobbying in Washington.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      3:38 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Why the $eLL does the FCC care how channels and programs are bundled? The FCC’s interest in TV should stop when the broadcast energy stops.

      I do agree that lots of channels would disappear if they allowed a la carte programming, but I’m tired of subsidizing everyone else’s interests. I just want to pay for what I want to use.

  6. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    11:28 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    ESPN ran short of quality reporters and turned to sports “personalities” that polarized people.

    • Mc12
      12:03 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Correct, and I’d be willing to bet that none of the layoffs occur to people that are paid to scream stupid stuff at each other. Unfortunately they must either have decent ratings or fit the vision of the enterprise. When these politicians, media outlets, and political shows are so polarizing, the only winners are the politicians, media outlets and networks and pretty much everyone else loses.

  7. unbridled
    11:30 am April 26, 2017 Permalink

    This is a direct result of ESPN’s communist political correctness. The ship is sinking.

    • Mathlete
      12:57 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      It’s really not, regardless of what your political leanings or the internet tell you.

      It’s a result of cord-cutting and gigantic, poorly constructed rights deals — e.g. They lost $75 million cover one NFL game. They got to cover one of the NFL divisional playoff games this year and it ended up being the Raiders (minus their starting QB) against the Texans (minus their better QB, also nobody cares). The ad revenues collectively paid them back all but $75mil of what they paid the NFL to air the game in the first place.

      ESPN’s actual viewership isn’t that far off from where they’ve always been, the problem is that fewer and fewer people are getting cable TV and paying their cable company something like $8/mo to have ESPN access whether they use it or not. The best way ESPN could save their own skin is to offer an online only option like HBO did and get some of the cord cutters back.

    • RUPPS.rhetoric
      1:12 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Mathlete, you’re dead on. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with their reporting agenda, political stance, etc … I’m assuming you’ve read Clay Travis’ various takes on this?

    • Mc12
      1:34 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I hear what you’re saying, but agenda-driven programming is also a factor in the sharp decline in ratings. Whether this means people that kept cable around because of sports programming from ESPN, that eventually decided to cut the cord because it was too polarizing is difficult to quantify. My point is it’s possible that the cutting the cord is a direct result of their programming.

      Also,when I read every message board the vast majority of people say the same thing. So yes, this commentary is from the internet, but these are real people saying the same thing. I think all of the factors mentioned can attribute to the plummeting.

      Can you tell me how the ratings were this past season for MNF?

    • RUPPS.rhetoric
      1:52 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Mc12, is it possible that some people are cutting the cord strictly because of ESPN’s programming? Sure, no doubt. I also think it’s a huge coincidence that their crappy programming is going on now, at a time where cord-cutting is becoming more and more prevalent. Die-hard sports fans chose to ignore ESPN’s original programming but still tune in when “their team” plays. I cut the cord from cable myself, but signed on through Playstation Vue, because I still need ESPN and the SECN for UK games. I’m still paying ESPN, just through a different avenue. So they didn’t lose my money. However, far more people don’t care about sports than people who do. That’s why the cord-cutting phenomena is killing ESPN. So far, since 2011 approximately 15 million people have “cut the cord” so to speak. These are people who don’t care about sports, and don’t seek out an alternative ESPN pay for streaming model. Those 15 million people were paying roughly $6 a month for ESPN. Do the math… thats $90 MILLION a month lost in revenue they were getting just 6 years ago,..and over a $1 BILLION a year. All the while they are losing subscribers by the truckload every month. However, the TV rights fee’s they’ve agreed to stay the same. It’s an unsustainable model that will collapse. To circle back, yes, probably some casual sports fans have probably dropped the bundle (and ESPN) because of their political stances. However the majority of sports fans who rely on ESPN to watch their team have to stay on board because there isn’t another outlet to view games. Hopefully that changes.

    • RUPPS.rhetoric
      1:55 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      And no doubt the ratings drop is 100% attributed to programming. NO QUESTION. And ultimately that will affect the amount of ad revenue they can bring in. However, their cash cow is the cable subscriptions, and that is collapsing. Your point is valid, but it’s secondary to the issue they are facing with the non sports fan cable cutters. When 15 million people have been paying you $6 a month for no reason whatsoever, and they all go away; that’s catastrophic financially.

    • Mathlete
      1:59 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      “Prime-time broadcasts were the most affected. ESPN’s Monday Night Football (17 games) and NBC’s Sunday Night Football (19 games, including two Thursdays), the two most costly rights deals, were down 12 and 10 percent, respectively, in total viewers.

      Daytime games on Fox and CBS, which each broadcast 27 games, were down 6 and 7 percent, respectively, in total viewers.”

      So the NFL on the whole was down 8%, ESPN was down 12%, so we’re talking about a 4% ratings difference year over year that’s attributable in some form to ESPN. Some of that has to do with an endless variety of options on TV, some has to do with the election coverage (because it was down 14% prior to November 8th) , some has to do with a weak schedule, some to do with cord cutters, and some probably does have to do with ESPN’s political leanings. How much of each is impossible to determine.

    • Mc12
      2:53 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I agree. They’ve lost a boat load of $ from cord-cutters that didn’t watch a ton of sports. They also saw a large decline in ratings on MNF which in my opinion has more to do with the polarizing commentary than others may feel. It’s a double-edge sword for them.

      I do understand there are several factors that may contribute to the lack in viewership in primetime games. I just believe a large chunk of that was their political leanings combined with election coverage creating an oversaturation of content that burnt people out.

    • Mathlete
      3:14 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Mc12 – I’m assuming you don’t agree with ESPN’s leanings since it’s a big factor to you, but did you stop watching ESPN when UK was playing? Because if you’re getting over that disagreement for your team, how do you know other people weren’t as well?

  8. za
    12:02 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    It’s crazy just how bad ESPN has gotten. Sportscenter is terrible, so they gave SVP a slot to save the whole segment himself. It was absolutely amazing in its past. Cable is trending down, but what ESPN’s segments are just worse than they used to be.

  9. Mathlete
    12:24 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    If only Stephen A Smith were on the chopping block… That dude is a joke, he and Cowherd should do a show together called “We Troll You For Attention”

  10. Uk8rings
    12:31 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    I lost all respect when Caitlyn Jenner was the courage award at the ESPYs…I’ll listen to your sports opinion but not your political opinion. ESPN had become a joke.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      2:15 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I would have just ignored the Jenner thing except for the massive slap in the face that was to the family of Lauren Hill, the women’s B-baller who played with an inoperable brain tumor and eventually died from it. Denying this poor girl the award just so they could make some very cheap political point was just a nasty and hateful thing to do.

    • catdaddyd
      9:11 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      The espys, really? Who watches that crap? I watch PTI and UK games only on espn.

  11. CatManDo
    12:49 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    Somewhere Clay Travis is smiling.

  12. the ghost of Bill Hicks
    12:55 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    Wow….didn’t expect a name like Ed Werder to get cut. Kaylee Hartung must have seen the writing on the wall.

    • 2Dogs
      1:22 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Always liked Werder. Solid reporter plus he always seemed to cover the Cowboys.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      2:16 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      It was well-reported when Kaylee left that ESPN had become a nightmare where everyone was waiting for the hatchet to fall.

    • rickwhitetx
      2:23 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Exactly what I was thinking, Ghost. Good for Kaylee to get out just before the hatchet fell.

  13. trumpet player
    1:05 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    The commenters seem to have a much better feel for the real reason this has happened. I won’t bother telling KSR to heed this warning. I obviously must have very thin skin if I can’t handle a few Left-leaning political remarks. (In every show I watch or listening to)

    • Mathlete
      1:12 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      thin, and possibly slightly orange-tinted

  14. RUPPS.rhetoric
    1:09 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    Seems like a lot of people here are missing the big picture; a few have mentioned it, and they’re right. These layoffs have nothing to them skewing to the left or biased reporting. This is simply a measure taken by ESPN to try and stop the hemorrhaging going on by people cutting the cord. Love him or hate him, Clay Travis has been on this for quite some time. Seek out his stuff on this and you’ll learn a great deal. ESPN’s revenue is based on a foundation largely built by people paying for something (ESPN) they don’t even use (cable subscriptions). Non-sports fans who have been paying $7-$8 a month for ESPN for the past 25 years in a cable bundle are now cutting the chord by the millions, thus cutting off ESPN’s #1 revenue stream. It’s crazy if you think about it. Sports media is built on a bubble and it’s starting to pop. This is just the beginning of it.

    • Mathlete
      1:14 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Given the choice, I’d buy a $10/mo WatchESPN subscription and dump cable. Their UK game coverage is pretty much the only reason I’ve kept cable this long

    • RUPPS.rhetoric
      1:22 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Mathlete, no doubt. Most, if not all, sports fan’s would. But that barely puts a dent in the money ESPN has, and continues to lose. They’ve made BILLIONS off of people who don’t even use their product. It’s crazy. There is no way to recoup that type of revenue, even if they offer an over the top a la carte product. I think I read a hypothetical somewhere that to adequately compensate for the lost “cord cutters” their loyal base would have to pay upwards of $150 a month for ESPN. Now clearly, that’ll never be option because who would pay that. But the math is crazy on this. What’ll happen is Disney will bail them out of their current rights contracts. Then the market will dictate what the new contracts will be. Chances are they’ll be a lot lower; and then we’ll possibly see professional athlete contracts start to slowly come back down because this TV rights cash cow will no longer be as fat as it was. As Clay Travis has stated, it’s possible a big internet player like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, etc, could possibly pay that kind of money; but that remains to be seen. Very interesting stuff.

    • catsarerunnin
      1:23 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      The home run derby coverage is always spot on but no more “back back back back gone!”….

    • Mathlete
      2:06 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Let’s say that the average consumer paid their cable company $8/mo for ESPN access. Like any good middle man, the cable company is out to double their money so ESPN gets about $4 and the cable company gets the other $4.

      If they charged me $10/mo for online access and I paid it, my money going directly to them would make up for 2.5 cord cutters. Nudge that up to $15 for the premium tier with SEC Network, ESPN News, ESPN Classics, and maybe some other perks like ESPN Insider content and it would make up for almost 4 cord cutters.

      That’s the route I think ESPN should consider, and Disney definitely has the money to make it happen if they think it’s the right play.

  15. 2Dogs
    1:20 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    When you can take something as great as sports and make it completely unwatchable in the form of the SportsNation program you’ve accomplished something. Give those guys the pink slip.

  16. Sentient Third Eye
    2:20 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    There is a factor bigger than cord-cutters or the political ignorance of ESPN’s newer talent. It’s that Millennials aren’t into sports like previous generations were. They cord-cut, but they don’t get live sports and a huge percentage of them just don’t care. It’s a generational thing. To many of them, their sports occur on the X-Box.

    • Mathlete
      2:38 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Many millennials that are moving out for the first time are cord-nevers. They just never bought cable to begin with once they got their own places, they get most of their entertainment from the web (YouTube, Netflix, et al) instead. That’s killing cable TV’s industry model too, that’s why you’re seeing a lot of interesting mergers like AT&T buying DirecTV and Comcast buying NBC/Universal.

      It’s not enough to be just a TV provider, you have to be TV and …insert other thing here. Time Warner and Comcast are both a TV provider and content creator, AT&T is now a TV provider and cell phone provider (and their zero-rating DirecTV service is either the most brilliant plan or biggest miscalculation ever, but it’s going to set a precedent either way).

    • Bluebloodtoo
      3:40 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I’m all for Xbox ESPN app, but it’s CRAPP. It’s the worst app I’ve ever dealt with (yes, even worse than the KSR app). They redesigned it for the xbox1, and they actually made it WORSE.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      3:50 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      At some point in the future, the TV issue is going to be sorted out. Those mergers sound like they are diversifying their interest and making sure they have some strings to pull when it comes times to stream, rather than broadcast. The advertising and broadcast rights market is INSANELY large. That market is not good for consumers.

  17. Biscuits Old Dad
    2:27 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    I agree with those that say the money for broadcasting rights has been stupidly high. There’s no way these networks could make their money back. Nobody watches the NBA anymore except during the playoffs. Plus their main cash cow, the NFL, is losing popularity as baseball did because people aren’t invested in teams the way they used to be before big money and free agency became such a big part of the game. Not saying players should be bound to teams like they used to be but it does have an effect. It’s a lot like the “one and done” has affected college basketball. (hate it, but that’s the way it is.)
    ESPN hasn’t helped themselves with their programming. Shows like “Pardon the Interruption” and “on-air personalities” like Dan Lebotard and his unintelligible father, Stugotz, and Bomani Jones and the huge windbag Stephen A. Smith have driven a lot of people away. And whoever came up with “Sportcenter At 6” should be shot.
    And while I’m at it, they should cut out all the human interest stories. I don’t care if some 2nd string shooting guard from South Dakota State saves bottle caps to trade in for soft ice cream for 3rd graders at the local elementary school. I watch ESPN to see games, scores, and highlights.
    OK, rant over. whew…..

    • Sentient Third Eye
      3:02 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      I do a facepalm when I see people online celebrating when a favorite athlete gets a maximum contract, only to complain when their TV bill gets more expensive…

  18. secrick
    2:29 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    What did i do with that antenna so i can go back to getting my 3 channels . Its frigging TV.

    • Mathlete
      2:38 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Good news! If you’re in Lexington metro it’s more like 20 channels over the air, several of which are watchable!

  19. tlwood43
    2:53 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    If you look at the financials of Disney, ESPN’s parent company, it’s clear that ESPN is a drag on its performance and has been for a while. The reasons are mostly cord cutting and the availability of instant highlights/info via internet. Nobody has a great reason to watch SportsCenter anymore. The mouse got tired of it and demanded changes be made. I’m sad that the on-air cuts were largely the thoughtful reporters I like rather than the loud “personalities” I don’t. We’ll always have Stephen A. Apparently.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      3:45 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

      Wait… Stephen A didn’t fall into the “loud and obnoxious” category? I’m not sure how that’s even possible. I listen to Mike and Mike on my morning commute, but the instant that I hear Stephen A or that other juvenile (le bretard) radio show I switch to anything else. Can’t stand all the yelling, arguing, or potty humor. Both of those shows are a waste of electricity and dollars in my opinion.

  20. Peas and Carrots
    4:32 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

  21. BTownUKFan
    6:25 pm April 26, 2017 Permalink

    I won’t miss Dana O’Neill, she was a Pat Forde pal and could not write anything about Kentucky without finding a negative spin while droolling all over Pitino.