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.
Al Michaels Move To Amazon Seems More Likely
“All of this means 2021 could be the final season for the Michaels-Chris Collinsworth booth.”
The rumors swirling around Al Michaels and Amazon are more and more likely to be true.
Reports surfaced earlier this year that Amazon may tab Michaels as the lead play-by-play voice on Thursday Night Football when it takes over the property next season. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand posted a piece today that makes it all but certain.
“Amazon will hire Al Michaels as its lead play-by-player,” Marchand wrote. “On the official Clicker Probability Scale, we have this at 90 percent, so we expect it to happen. One of our sources put it at 95 percent. No one we spoke to was pessimistic about Amazon Al becoming a reality. It’s not a done deal, but I’d put money on it.”
Those same rumors still tied Michaels and NBC together for their playoff game, and Marchand is convinced that’s the route each side is taking. He previously reported in June that Amazon would pursue Michaels.
The plan is for Michaels to call Amazon’s 15 regular-season games and then jump over to NBC for their Wild Card Game broadcast. With the move, Mike Tirico slots into Michaels’s role as NBC’s lead NFL play-by-play voice. Tirico joined NBC under the notion he’d eventually succeed Michaels.
All of this means 2021 could be the final season for the Michaels-Chris Collinsworth booth. Michaels started at NBC in 2006 after he was traded from ESPN to NBC for the “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” character. A trade NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol was glad to make.
“We earn nothing from those rights,” Ebersol said at the time. “They’ve had no value in the United States.”
Michaels worked with the legendary John Madden for his first few seasons before his pairing with Collinsworth in 2009. Michaels goes down as just the third broadcaster ever to do Super Bowl play-by-play for NBC, joining Dick Enberg and Curt Gowdy.
Malika Andrews To Host New ESPN Studio Show NBA Today
”NBA Today will provide in-depth, comprehensive daily coverage of all aspects of the NBA”
ESPN has announced a new studio show, called NBA Today hosted by Malika Andrews. In a corresponding move, the last episode of The Jump is set for October 8th.
Andrews will be joined by analysts Kendrick Perkins, Chiney Ogwumike, Vince Carter, and Zach Lowe. Additionally ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski and Senior Writer Ramona Shelburne will be among several contributors to the new show.
Along with this new role, Andrews will also continue to work as a sideline reporter for NBA live event coverage.
NBA Today is set to premiere October 18th, a day prior to the NBA opening day. The show will take place Monday to Friday at 3 P.M ET. This will be a year long show dating at least to the end of the season, with an on site show for the upcoming 2021-22 NBA Finals.
”NBA Today will provide in-depth, comprehensive daily coverage of all aspects of the NBA” said Dave Roberts, the ESPN Senior Vice President of NBA and Studio Production.
”Through the contributions of our wide array of NBA reporters, the show will be both newsy and timely with an eye towards the biggest games around the league that day.” said Roberts about the new show.
ESPN has made a number of changes in their NBA coverage since the change of Roberts to his new role at the company and this is yet another change made by him.
Jimmy Kimmel: Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long Hated Me
“Kimmel described the meetings FOX had over whether they should fire him.”
Jimmy Kimmel is a producer on the latest ESPN 30 for 30 project, Once Upon A Time In Queens, and he joined the SI Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina to discuss the documentary. What he might not have planned on talking about is the friction between him, Howie Long, and Terry Bradshaw.
Kimmel worked on the FOX NFL pregame show from 1999 to 2002; during that time he got on the bad side of Long and Bradshaw.
“I was going through stories the other day with guys that I had just met,” Kimmel said on the show. “I was telling story after story, and I was thinking like… ‘what’s with these guys that they don’t like me, don’t they have a sense of humor?’ And as I told story after story I was like, ‘of course they didn’t like me, it doesn’t make any sense for them to like me,’ I was an asshole.”
Long and Bradshaw were upset with Kimmel’s jokes about them, of which, Jimmy Kimmel clarified on the podcast as poorly edited for TV.
“They were editing my bits at FOX, and they were doing a very bad job of it,” Kimmel described. “They were editing them like they edit sports bits, which doesn’t work for comedy, and I really wanted control of these bits, and the guys hated me. “
Jimmy Kimmel described the meetings FOX had over whether they should fire him.
“They would have these meetings and are like, ‘you have to get rid of this guy, why are you giving our time to this as*hole, he’s making fun of us, he’s not funny, he sucks, get rid of the guy.’ So Scott [Ackerson] came up with one of the worst plans ever.”
The plan ended up being a call-in vote to remove Jimmy Kimmel from the show based on viewer call-ins. Yes, FOX left Kimmel’s NFL pregame show fate up to the masses, and they decided to keep him around. Listen to the rest of the interview here on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.
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