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Major Layoffs Likely Coming To ESPN

“ESPN currently has about 4,000 employees in Bristol, CT, and 6,500 around the globe.”

Brandon Contes

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Six months after COVID-19 began ravaging the United States, industries are still feeling its negative impacts. According to Ryan Glasspiegel of Outkick, ESPN could lay off a significant number of employees in response to the pandemic.

If it does happen, it will be ESPN’s third significant round of layoffs in the last five years. Having let 350 employees go in 2015, and laying off another 100 two years later, the third round of cuts could be the company’s largest. A source told Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports that somewhere between 300 and 700 employees could lose their jobs. Similar to the 2015 cuts, the looming layoffs are expected to feature mostly behind-the-scenes workers. 

The potential layoffs won’t come as a total surprise as sports media brands have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. And just last week, ESPN’s parent company Disney announced 28,000 people would be laid off from its Parks, Experiences and Production unit. ESPN currently has about 4,000 employees in Bristol, CT, and 6,500 around the globe. 

In April, ESPN employees agreed to temporary pay cuts in hopes of combating the need to eliminate jobs due to the pandemic. While the salary reductions may have contributed some cost savings, it doesn’t seem to have done enough. Those pay cuts lasted just 90 days, and in addition to layoffs, salary reductions for top-talent and executives could be revisited again. 

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FOX Sports Draws 1.59 Million Viewers for UFL Championship Game

This year’s championship game, which was called by Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt and also featured a visit from Tom Brady in the booth, peaked at 1,723,000 viewers from 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

Barrett Sports Media

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Photo of the UFL Championship game on FOX Sports
Photo Courtesy: FOX Sports

If television viewership is the barometer, spring football had a heck of season. It all culminated with FOX Sports drawing 1.59 million viewers for the United Football League championship game between the Birmingham Stallions and the San Antonio Brahmas, which the Stallions won 25-0.

The Stallions’ third consecutive championship was up 38% over their second championship a year ago when they played Pittsburgh in the USFL championship game. It was also an increase of 11% over the XFL Championship game from last year between Arlington and DC.

This year’s championship game, which was called by Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt and also featured a visit from Tom Brady in the booth, peaked at 1,723,000 viewers from 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

The UFL regular season was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this year. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to SI’s Mike Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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Report: Pat McAfee Does Not Currently Have an Agreement to Return to ‘College GameDay’

“With the start of the season a little more than two months away, Pat McAfee remains unsigned with ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Screengrab of Pat McAfee on College GameDay
Screengrab: ESPN College GameDay

College GameDay, the beloved college football pre-game show on ESPN, has a big change in store for it this coming season with the addition of former Alabama head coach Nick Saban joining the team. According to a report today from Andrew Marchand of The Athletic, there is no guarantee their most recent addition prior to Saban will be back. Marchand says that Pat McAfee remains unsigned as far as returning to the show.

Marchand wrote, “With the start of the season a little more than two months away, Pat McAfee remains unsigned with ESPN’s “College GameDay,” sources briefed on McAfee’s contract talks told The Athletic.

“McAfee, the 37-year-old talk show host, wrestling analyst and firebrand, said late last year that he would return to the program, but a deal to make that official is still not completed. McAfee has a separate contract that allows ESPN to license his daily “The Pat McAfee Show” on its network and YouTube.”

Marchand reports the two sides are continuing to talk but no agreement has been reached as of yet.

McAfee spent college football Saturday’s last season with host Rece Davis and co-hosts Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso. In October, a survey done by The Athletic showed that of 3,100 respondents, only 30.1% said they like McAfee on GameDay, with 48.9% saying they do not like him on the show. Another 21% said they had no opinion.

In response the survey, McAfee posted on X at the time, ““I have heard you all very loud and clear since the beginning of my stint with GameDay. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I have not resigned a contract with the legendary show,” he said. “I’m not right for some crowds and the ‘distinguished’ College Football folks are definitely one of those. Excited to enjoy the rest of this year, that’s shaping up to be a GREAT one, and then see what the future holds.”

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Indiana Fever-Chicago Sky Game on CBS is Most-Watched WNBA Game in 23 Years

The game peaked in viewership at nearly 3 million people tuning in.

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Screengrab from WNBA YouTube Page of Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese
Screengrab: WNBA on YouTube

This past weekend, CBS Sports carried the WNBA matchup between the Indiana Fever and the Chicago Sky. While neither team has gotten off to a great start this season, between them they have three of the top seven picks from this past year’s WNBA Draft. Of course, Indiana features Caitlin Clark from Iowa who was the No. 1 pick while Chicago has No. 3 overall pick Kamilla Cardoso from South Carolina and the No. 7 overall pick Angel Reese from LSU. The game lived up to the hype as it delivered an average audience of 2.252 million viewers, making it the most-watched WNBA game in 23 years.

The viewership for the game was up 225% over the comparable game window from last year with a game between the Phoenix Mercury and the New York Liberty. The game peaked in viewership at nearly 3 million people tuning in. On the streaming side, Paramount+ delivered its most-streamed WNBA game ever across households, minutes and average minute audience.

The Fever won the game 91-83. Caitlin Clark led the Fever with 23 points, and she also had 9 assists and eight rebounds.

CBS will look to draw an even bigger number when it next carries the Fever. That will be on July 6 when they host the New York Liberty. Currently the Fever have a 5-10 record on the season. New York has played 14 games so far on the season and has only lost two.

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