If there is one network that would seem to be immune to layoffs, it would be ESPN, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”
ESPN seems to be printing money. It has been acquiring sports rights left and right. It just recently signed an 11-year deal to exclusively carry the U.S. Open tennis tournament, starting in 2015. It has shored up many of its college broadcast properties, will be helping to start the SEC (Southeastern Conference) Network and promoted its new state-of-the-art “SportsCenter” set that is expected to debut in 2014.
Heady times, right? Well, not exactly.
ESPN sent shock waves through the media industry Tuesday when it was announced that there would be layoffs. Speculation was the number of people losing their jobs was between 300 and 400.
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. It seemed strange, especially since Disney’s stock hit an all-time high earlier this month. But, apparently, ESPN’s first-quarter profits weren’t up to expectations (translation: it didn’t make enough money to please corporate).
Certainly, spending over billions of dollars on right fees is catching up to ESPN. Production costs are going up. It seems like there is an overabundance of analysts on the network, and they don’t come cheap.
There is also pressure on ESPN. It’s no longer the only national sports channel. There is CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network. While those two channels haven’t made a huge dent on ESPN, a network that won’t start until August, FOX Sports 1, will give ESPN a huge run for its money.
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.
But what this proves is that no media entity is safe from job cuts.
Memorial Day weekend
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and the unofficial start of summer this weekend, which usually means good, warm weather. But since it appears it will be a cool, possibly rainy weekend, you may want to stay inside and watch the plethora of sporting events on TV, or listen to them on the radio.
Let’s start with the annual big car races on Sunday. ABC10 (WTEN) and ABC10 HD will have the Indianapolis 500 for the 49th consecutive year at noon. FOX23 (WXXA) and FOX23 HD will carry the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 at 6 p.m.
But the big twist this year is that for the first time, the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix will be shown live on network television. NBC13 (WNYT) and NBC13 HD will have the race at 7:30 a.m. The race has been shown on network TV before by ABC (on “Wide World of Sports”) and FOX, but it was always on tape.
There will be playoff games from the NHL and NBA playoffs to watch. On the NHL side, NBC Sports Network and NBCSN HD has Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins at 5:30 p.m. today. NBC13 (WNYT) and NBC13 HD has Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 8. On Sunday, it’s Game 6 of the Western semis between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks on NBCSN and NBCSN HD. The game will either be at 8 p.m. or 10.
In the NBA, ESPN and ESPN HD has Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies tonight at 9, as well as Game 4 on Monday at 9. TNT and TNT HD has Game 3 of the Eastern semis between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
ESPN Radio 104.5 (WTMM-FM) will have the ESPN Radio coverage tonight’s game, as well as Sunday.
The French Open starts at 5 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD. NBC will also have coverage starting at noon Sunday.
It’s an all-Germany match for the UEFA Champions League title today at 2 p.m. when FOX Sports shows Bayern Munich against Dortmund.
The NCAA men’s lacrosse championship semifinals are on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD today. Cornell takes on Duke at 2:30 p.m., and Syracuse faces Denver at 5. ESPN and ESPN HD will have the championship game at 1 Monday. FOX Sports 980 (WOFX) will carry the title contest.
The New York Mets get the prime-time treatment this weekend when they face the Atlanta Braves. FOX Sports has tonight’s game at 7, and ESPN and ESPN HD carries Sunday’s contest at 8 p.m.
Speaking of the Mets, CBS6 (WRGB) and CBS6 HD will have the Mets’ feed of their Subway
Series game against the Yankees at 7 p.m. Monday. YES will have the Yankees’ broadcast.