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Parting Schotts

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Behind the Broadcast Extra: Layoffs at ESPN (updated)

By Ken Schott
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Some media notes on this hot, steamy Tuesday:

-- In a shocking move, ESPN confirmed a Tweet by Deadspin that it will be laying off hundreds of employees today. The number could be between 300 and 400 people.

In a statement, ESPN said, "We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive."

The Disney Company owns ESPN, and it's believed it ordered the cuts. A lot may have to do with the rights fees ESPN has paid out recently for major events, including last week's announcement that it is taking over U.S. Open tennis coverage.

One person who received a layoff notice emailed Deadspin, saying "we were told that the layoffs ARE tied to the profit margin that ESPN needs to meet and the fact they haven't met that number. Your comments about them buying all of these live rights and now needed to reduce overhead costs is dead on."

What makes the layoffs even more confusing is that Disney's stock hit an all-time high a couple of weeks ago.

Even though I have been critical at times about ESPN's direction, no one wants to see good people lose their jobs, especially when the company does seem to be making money.

-- NBC Sports' Preakness coverage attracted nearly 10 million viewers on Saturday, the network announced today.

It's the most-watched Preakness since 2009, and the fourth most-watched dating back to 1990. The viewership for the race was up 20 percent from last year’s Preakness (8.1 million), according to official national data provided today by The Nielsen Company.

The rating/share of 5.9/14 is up 13 percent from last year’s race (5.2/13), the highest since 2009 (6.8/16), and the second best since 2006 (6.6/16).

-- ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team (WTMM) will carry two NBA playoff games this weekend. It will have Game 3 of the Western Conference finals between San Antonio and Memphis at 9 p.m. Saturday, and Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals between Indiana and Miami at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

-- YES Network will carry the press conference to introduce the newest MLS franchise, New York City FC, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Follow @slapschotts on Twitter.

 

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