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Layoffs Coming To ESPN

Jason Barrett

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Layoffs are coming to ESPN.

Multiple sources inside and outside of ESPN tell The Big Lead that the network will be laying off “200 to 300” employees in the coming months.

These are the first ESPN layoffs since 2013, and might not be the last, as Disney has notified ESPN to trim $100 million from the 2016 budget and $250 million in 2017.

An ESPN spokesman sent the following statement to The Big Lead about the impending layoffs: “ESPN has historically embraced evolving technology to smartly navigate our business. Any organizational changes will be announced directly to our employees if and when appropriate.”

The layoffs will come on the heels of a busy summer at ESPN. Once the cord cutting situation became very real (as detailed extensively here), ESPN began looking for ways to lower costs in anticipation of the enormous NBA TV deal that is on the horizon.

Mike & Mike’s radio move to a New York City studio was shelved. Permanently. The hefty salaries of opinion-makers Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd came off the books (though ESPN made a competitive offer to Cowherd before he left for Fox Sports). And ESPN, like Fox Sports 1, will be calling some live sporting events from the studio instead of traveling.

In a move that is not related to the layoffs, ESPN will be making midday changes to SportsCenter next month, sources told The Big Lead. ESPN will be cutting the Monday-Friday 1-3 pm show in half, and eliminating the 3-6 pm live show with an anchor providing live updates on breaking news.

An ESPN spokesman sent the following statement to The Big Lead about the changes: “We have already begun a series of strategic enhancements, including SportsCenter on the Road, the launch of Scott Van Pelt’s show, additional live hours on weekend mornings and, starting in February, live shows from 7 to 9 am ET. SportsCenter will present regular live updates on TV from 1:30 to 6 p.m. each weekday, and will be in position to break into network coverage when news developments warrant. In addition, the afternoon SportsCenter group will produce unique new content for all digital and social platforms. Existing resources will be allocated among these and other initiatives.”

Credit to The Big Lead who originally published this article

Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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