ESPN Layoffs A Sign Of Sports TV Evolution

Sports fans across America will long remember the Wednesday in late April of 2017 that saw nearly 100 of the most recognizable contributors to sports juggernaut ESPN were let go. This move follows another downsizing behind the scenes a year prior that saw over 300 staffers released. A combination of wildly expensive rights deals and cord-cutting was the primary driver behind the move and most analysts expect the contraction to continue for several years to come. It should be fascinating to observe how rivals like Fox Sports and NBC try to take advantage of this influx of established sports talent. 

Meanwhile, there is much speculation about what a next generation ESPN will look like. From an investment in E-Sports to embracing the widespread popularity of sports and online gambling at places like Old Havana Casino, there are several 21st century programming moves that could be embraced going forward. One thing for sure is that the emphasis will be on personality and opinion over news and journalism based on the current talent releases. Nearly the entire NHL department was cut and baseball and college basketball both took big hits. 

Interestingly, tonight marks one of the biggest nights on the sports television calendar when the NFL Draft takes over screens on ESPN and the NFL Network. Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett is widely expected to go first overall to the Cleveland Browns. Some have speculated that the timing of the layoffs was done in part to effectively turn the page with the major draft presentation tonight. It will be intriguing to see if the notoriously rowdy draft audience gets vocal about yesterday's news. 

We wish the best to all impacted by the changes yesterday and hope to see a more stable ESPN in the near future. Fans of sports everywhere can agree that more games and more access is a good thing. It is fair to say, however, that the model of television is changing in ways that are more profound than anything seen before. As the man once said, stay tuned.

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