ESPN to lay-off hundreds of staff as 'cord-cutting' accelerates

ESPN is cutting around 4 per cent of its workforce following accelerating loses as a result of cord-cutting which has hurt its advertising revenue.

The Disney-owned sports channel confirmed it will lay-off around 300 employees across all divisions and reinvest the money in hiring staff to develop emerging technology which it hopes will help it adapt to the changing TV landscape and meet the demand of online and mobile viewing of its content.

In a message to employees, ESPN President John Skipper said the job cuts are "part of a broad strategy to ensure we're in position to make the most of opportunities to build the future of ESPN". He also cited a need for "integrating emerging technology into all aspects of our business".

The cuts are also a response to traditional cable and satellite networks witnessing waves of customers cancelling their subscriptions in favour of far cheaper options such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. In August, pay TV services recorded their biggest-ever quarterly drop in subscribers, losing 625,000 TV customers which saw a huge sell-off in media stocks resulting in entertainment companies collectively losing more than $60bn.

The network was quick to affirm its commitment to cable and satellite distribution, saying that it had no plans to offer a streaming service similar to HBO Now. The channel has long benefited from the cable industry’s practice of bundling channels into packages however the acceleration of cable customers “cord-cutting” as they move to online subscription service has left its future uncertain.

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