Walt Disney-owned sports broadcaster ESPN has announced that another round of job cuts is imminent with 150 employees expected to lose their jobs. According to the president of the sports broadcaster, John Skipper, the roles that are going to be affected are mostly behind the scenes.
Majority of employees facing the axe work in technology, digital content and studio production sections. Earlier in the year there was another round of job cuts at ESPN where on-air personalities and high-profile writers lost their jobs. Two years ago ESPN also laid off 300 employees.
The layoffs come at a time when ESPN is suffering from a subscriber base that is declining despite an increase in its broadcast rights commitments. For instance the sports broadcaster has a ten-tear deal with the National Football League worth $15.2 billion, a $7.3 billion college football playoffs deal as well as a nine-year deal with the National Basketball Association worth $12 billion which began last fall.
Part of the problems affecting ESPN are as a result of changing subscriber habits as viewers increasingly ‘cut the cord’ by shunning traditional cable packages. In the last couple of years the subscriber base of ESPN has fallen by over ten million as consumers cancel cable subscriptions lured by on-demand content provided over the internet. To tap into the changing consumer trends, ESPN’s parent company, Walt Disney, is planning on introducing a Netflix-like streaming service which is slated for a 2019 launch.
The layoffs at ESPN coincide with the announcement of a half-year cash dividend by the Board of Directors of Walt Disney. The dividend per share of 84 cents will be paid next year on January 11 and will be paid to those shareholders who will be existing in the records on December 11, 2017. In July shareholders of Walt Disney were paid another half-year dividend of 78 cents per share.
“Disney’s incomparable collection of iconic brands and franchises continues to deliver strong returns, and we are pleased to increase our dividend to shareholders to $0.84 per share. This payment brings our total dividends for fiscal 2017 to $1.62 a share,” Walt Disney’s chief executive officer and chairman, Bob Iger, said.
And for the third consecutive year Walt Disney Studios have managed to cross the $5 billion mark in global box office receipts, breaking an industry record. Between the beginning of the year and November 29, 2017, Walt Disney Studios made $1.763 billion in the United States and $3.239 billion internationally.