Los Angeles Business Journal

ESPN Announces Layoffs

By Jonathan Polakoff Originally published May 21, 2013 at 3:39 p.m., updated May 21, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.

Cable sports network ESPN will lay off about 400 workers as part of cost-cutting efforts by parent company Walt Disney Co. of Burbank.

It’s unclear which parts of ESPN will bear the brunt of the cuts. Deadspin.com broke the news Tuesday and said ESPN’s technology group was among the first to be notified.

The network is headquartered in Bristol, Conn., where it has about 4,000 employees, but also has significant editorial and broadcast operations in Los Angeles, where some SportsCenter episodes are taped. ESPN has a global workforce of about 7,000 employees.

ESPN is a profit center for Disney, which owns 80 percent of the network. The other 20 percent is owned by media empire Hearst Corp. of New York.

Earlier this month, Disney reported revenue of about $5 billion and operating income of $1.9 billion for its TV networks in the second quarter. Disney shares have been trading near all-time highs since the earnings were announced.

But in recent months there have also been layoffs throughout the entertainment giant’s operations, including the Disney movie studio and the recently acquired video game division of Lucasfilm.

ESPN acknowledged the cuts.

“We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs,” the network said in a statement. “While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.”

Disney shares closed down less than three-tenths of a percent to $65.84 in Tuesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.