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ESPN lays off 100 on-air personalities, writers

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BRISTOL, Conn. — ESPN plans to lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers on Wednesday.

The job cuts, including television, radio and online personalities, have been announced during the day and most will take effect immediately. Several of those who have been let go took to Twitter to make the announcement.

ESPN also plans to cut what the source described as a limited number of additional off-air jobs.

Among those let go are NFL reporter Ed Werder, college basketball reporter Dana O’Neil and college football reporter Brett McMurphy.

ESPN is shifting its focus toward digital as it faces cable subscriber losses and increased pressure on costs. The network has spent billions of dollars in recent years on rights deals with major sports leagues and college conferences.

ESPN declined to comment on the job cuts. In a note to employees, however, ESPN president John Skipper mentioned the changing habits of viewers.

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” he wrote. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”

Many of the people who were laid off were coming to the end of their contracts and did not want to accept large pay cuts. For others, ESPN offered to buy them out of their contracts.

ESPN employs about 8,000 people around the world.

Jim Miller, the co-author of “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN,” said ESPN believed the moves were necessary “to not only stay competitive, but to help transition their content strategy for the future.”

“SportsCenter,” ESPN’s flagship show, will become more of a digital presence and move away from “a show with many, many, highly paid anchors,” Miller said.

“ESPN is arguably one of the greatest success stories in the history of modern media. But now even it can’t escape some of the harsh realities of an ever changing technological landscape.”

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