North Texas Daily

The motives behind the ESPN layoffs

The motives behind the ESPN layoffs

The motives behind the ESPN layoffs
May 02
21:58 2017

Nate Jackson | Staff Writer

Sports are a piece of the tapestry that is our lives. For as long as we can remember, we’ve either participated in athletic endeavors or observed and acted as a support system for our loved ones who take part in sports.

Sports have always served as a pleasurable distraction from stress, the responsibilities of school and the societal issues we encounter on a daily basis. It’s served as an escape, and those who have aided in our elopement of sports have become something like family.

ESPN was the venue, the platform that married fans to their perspective teams. The reporters and writers were the officiants. Which is why when ESPN cut 100 of its on-air personalities and writers last Wednesday, it gave us all a cause to pause.

I was personally dumbfounded when I learned of this. Being a public relations major, our professors continually preach that traditional media will never die. So naturally, this leads you to ask questions.

If you have a slight amount of business savvy, you understand that the greatest cost to a company is retaining its talent, or human capital. From what I’ve been able to gather, ESPN laid off so many employees in an effort to save “SportsCenter.” According to the latest estimates, ESPN has lost 12 million subscribers in the past six years in a nearly 12 percent drop, and there is no current sign of the decrease slowing down.

The accessibility that the internet has provided has greatly damaged the leverage “SportsCenter” once possessed. It was “must-watch television” for the avid sports consumer. The loss of subscribers isn’t necessarily in retaliation to something ESPN has done, but it’s more than likely that they’re people who don’t see the need to pay for cable anymore. I personally find it hard to pay for cable when I can easily pay for Netflix and subscribe to WatchESPN, saving $70 to $80 a month.

So technically, the loss of subscribers isn’t affecting them as much as we might have initially thought. The real reason behind the layoffs is actually the series of attempts to modernize their business model by becoming more digital.

This raises a bigger issue: what is the long-term effect of internet streaming services on traditional media such as cable providers? Do I think that traditional media will ever die? Of course it won’t.

According to Business Insider, six media giants control 90 percent of what we read, watch or listen to. A total of 232 media executives control the information diet of roughly 277 million Americans. The overall revenue for these six companies was $275.9 billion in 2012. Now ESPN is owned by Disney, which is one of these six companies. If they don’t want ESPN to fail, you can bet your last dollar that it won’t.

Many people have shown sympathy for those who have lost their jobs. In a lot of instances, people place their identities in their occupation. So it’s a process of finding yourself again when you’ve let a job define you for so long.

In other cultures, companies do their best to retain their employees. There is this sense of unquestionable loyalty. Therefore, watching ESPN lay off the people who have dedicated their lives to them ultimately shows us what our favorite sports channel now stands for.

Featured Illustration: Antonio Mercado

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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