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Walt Disney is cutting about 100 jobs at ESPN, the top cable sports channel in the US, including some prominent on-air personalities, according to a person familiar with the matter.
ESPN generates most of Disney’s profits, but it has come under pressure as consumers drop pricey pay-TV subscriptions in favour of digital streaming services and “skinny bundles” of fewer channels delivered over the internet.
In February, Disney reported an 11 per cent drop in operating income at its cable networks in its fiscal first quarter, due to higher programming costs and lower advertising revenue at ESPN.
“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,” said John Skipper, ESPN president, in a message to staff.
Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, has vowed that the sports network will be available on all new “multichannel services” such as Dish Network’s Sling TV and Hulu. Disney plans to launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming service for ESPN this year.
ESPN’s global staff numbers around 8,000.