ESPN will let go 300 of its employees, in addition to leaving 200 other unfilled positions open. These cuts will reach journalists and on-air talent in many parts of the company. However, ESPN Esports appears to be particularly affected by the layoffs.
ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro attributes the layoffs to financial losses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the company is focusing on the importance of reaching viewers through its streaming service, ESPN+. As a result, the cuts are largely focused on employees involved in broadcast television.
On top of these factors, ESPN is also reportedly changing the way it presents esports news, focusing more on video content. This shift has brought layoffs that have effectively gutted ESPN Esports as it currently exists.
Many former ESPN Esports employees revealed the layoffs would affect them via Twitter on November 5 and 6. These include associate editors Sean Morrison and Brian Bencomo, along with staff writer Emily Rand and video producer Thomas Tischio.
Hey, everyone. Unfortunately, I just found out that I am being laid off. I'm not sure what comes next. For now, I'm just reflecting on how proud I am of this group and the growth @ESPN_Esports had this year. Being here for it is one of the highlights of my journalism career.
— Sean Morrison (@sean_morrison) November 5, 2020
Turns out I got the call today too and am one of the people who has been laid off by ESPN. It's been so much fun working here, first on the copy desk and then ESPN Esports, and I'm proud of the work my co-workers and I have done.
— Brian Bencomo (@Brian_Bencomo) November 6, 2020
Hi all, I've just received word that my contract with ESPN will not be renewed for 2021. I'm sad for all of my colleagues at ESPN who have also been affected by this round of layoffs and additionally thankful for the opportunity to have worked with such amazing people.
— Emily Rand (@leagueofemily) November 6, 2020
Hey all. Unfortunately I was one of the many to be affected by the layoffs at ESPN. I've worked in all facets of production at @ESPN_Esports and I am proud of the work I got to do there. If you're looking for a producer/video editor you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ❤️
— Tisch (@tischphotos) November 6, 2020
Others impacted by ESPN Esports layoffs
Prominent esports journalist Jacob Wolf revealed that he would also part ways with ESPN upon the expiration of his contract. However, he noted that he had already made plans to leave and had found another work opportunity. As a result, the ESPN Esports layoffs seemingly did not catch him off-guard as they did many others.
A 19-year-old Wolf joined the company in 2016, making him the youngest person ever hired by the company. Wolf said he expects to work on the 2020 Rift Rewind League of Legends Free Agency Special on November 16. However, his tenure with ESPN will presumably reach its conclusion come the end of the year.
— Jacob Wolf (@JacobWolf) November 6, 2020
Wolf has been retweeting statements from several others caught up in the ESPN Esports layoffs. Among them are staff writer Tyler Erzberger and video producer and host Daniel J. Collette.
After 5 years and helping create @ESPN_Esports from day one, I've been informed that this year will be my last
I promise I tried my best. Thank you all for your support on this crazy adventure that has changed my life
For the first time since 2014, I'm officially a free agent
— The Esports Writer (@FionnOnFire) November 6, 2020
I've also been affected by the layoffs at ESPN hitting in January
I saw this coming so I've been working on figuring out my next steps. Nothing concrete yet so my DMs are open for conversations if anyone in the games industry is hiring for on-camera and/or video production roles
— Daniel J. Collette (@DanielJCollette) November 6, 2020