May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN sports television division fired several hundred workers today, part of a companywide drive to improve profitability.
The firings number fewer than 400 and include unfilled positions, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named. ESPN, based in Bristol, Connecticut, announced the cuts in an e-mailed statement.
“We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs,” ESPN said in the statement. “While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.”
The cuts amount to less than 6 percent of ESPN’s 7,000 employees worldwide. Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, has made an ongoing review of costs a crucial part of its strategy, along with growth at its parks, media networks and consumer products unit, to increase profit margins.
The company eliminated 150 jobs from its film studio in April and shut down video-game development in Austin, Texas, and at the recently acquired Lucasfilm Ltd., as part of broad efficiency effort this year. The company said May 7 that fiscal second-quarter profit rose 32 percent to $1.51 billion.
The cuts were previously reported by the sports news website Deadspin.com.
Disney, based in Burbank, California, fell 0.4 percent to $65.83 at the close in New York. The stock has risen 32 percent this year, compared with 17 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
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