ESPN Said Planning Job Cuts to Reduce Ranks of On-Air Talent

ESPN, the most-watched cable network, plans to cut jobs after concluding it’s overstaffed in on-air talent, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The number of jobs affected have yet to be determined, and it’s not yet clear whether the network will meet its goals by firing some workers or just winding down contracts, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The company, which has about 1,000 on-air positions, continues to hire new talent, the person said.

After years of steady growth, the sports juggernaut has been forced to retrench because of a shrinking audience of cable and satellite households, with more viewers opting to watch video on their phones. ESPN, owned by Walt Disney Co. and based in Bristol, Connecticut, eliminated about 300 jobs, or 3.8 percent of its workforce, in 2015.

The network had 90 million subscribers at the end of its last fiscal year, the lowest since 2005, according to Nielsen data. ESPN is developing a direct-to-consumer streaming service to help make up for the decline in its traditional audience.

“We have long been about serving fans and innovating to create the best content for them,” ESPN said in a statement. “Today’s fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do. Inevitably that has consequences for how we utilize our talent. We are confident that ESPN will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports.”

Sports Illustrated reported the job-cut plans on Sunday.