ESPN on Wednesday began another round of layoffs, this one aimed at on-air personalities, perhaps the starkest sign yet of the financial reckoning playing out in sports broadcasting as cord-cutting proliferates. […]
The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to a 10-year, $15.2 billion deal with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.
This is what’s mind-blowing about the ESPN layoffs. It’s possible that the money the network decided it had to cut is so big that it couldn’t just prune people from fading properties like SportsCenter, or more fully abandon its plan to colonize local sports pages, which had been evident for some time. Here is ESPN cutting a digital reporter covering its biggest growth sport — one of two writers it attached to maybe the most popular sports team on the planet right now.