ESPN laying off 100 broadcasters, writers as viewers dwindle

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ESPN is laying off about 100 employees, including former athletes-turned-broadcasters Trent Dilfer, Len Elmore and Danny Kanell, in a purge created to focus the sports network on a more digital future. Many are releasing the news on social media, including National Football League reporter Ed Werder, baseball reporter Jayson Stark and college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil.

As of midday Wednesday, at least three media outlets published pages to track the exits from ESPN, including ones from The Sporting News, Deadspin, and The Washington Post.

ESPN has been facing a slump in revenue that's most easily traced to cord-cutting by former cable subscribers, in an era of sharply shifting habits both for sports fans and for television viewers in general. 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.

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ESPN isn't saying who has been fired. "And ESPN gets about $7 per subscriber per month, so that loss ends up being a lot of money".

The number of households with ESPN's flagship station has fallen from 99 million to 88 million, a decline of 11 percent, in barely more than three years, according to numbers from Nielsen and ESPN's parent, The Walt Disney Co.

In a letter to employees on Wednesday, ESPN's president, John Skipper, acknowledged the "difficult decisions" ahead and suggested what the network was looking for as it reshaped itself in the coming days. ESPN committed to a 10-year, $15.2 billion deal with the NFL in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the National Basketball Association; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others. The network had the unfortunate distinction of trending on social media all day as the names of people you have seen on TV daily or weekly for years trickled out. It will also relaunch two popular properties, Outside the Lines and E:60, in May.

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