Thursday’s headlines: What layoffs? All is well at ESPN

At ESPN, nothing to see here
Nothing to see here

It has been about eight days since the bloodbath at ESPN.

But gauging from what’s coming from the Disney brass, it was more of a bloodletting.

Bob Iger, the chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company (ESPN’s parent company), is telling everybody to just chill, baby. 

“A lot’s been said about the cost reductions at ESPN,” Iger said to shareholders Tuesday. “We’re managing that business efficiently, we always have and always will. … When you consider ESPN has about 8,000 employees, and we reduced by about 100. … It wasn’t a particularly significant number of reductions.”

What did we expect from ESPN?

This statement pairs well with ESPN President John Skipper’s explanation of the “melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts,” changes he pledged to take “further, faster & and as always, must be efficient and nimble.”

I get it. Yeah, you only lost a 100 people out of 8,000. And I also get when something bad happens to a company, the people in charge always will be — and really need to be — in full spin mode. They must immediately rally the ones still working to keep them focused and keep moving forward. Anyone out there who has survived a layoff knows what I mean. There’s a lot of despair to overcome.

But it’s disingenuous to suggest you’re product will still improve after cutting loose 100 on-air and online reporting talent (including several college football insiders). By refusing to acknowledge the cut won’t have an impact on ESPN going forward makes leadership look delusional. And more than healing any wounds left behind at the plant, it makes full-blown adversaries out of the departed. Anyone out there who hasn’t survived a layoff knows what I mean. There’s a lot of anger to overcome.

ESPN’s bottom line

As was written in, ESPN will see cost savings … but at the sacrifice of losing audience on TV and online? And if there is an audience reduction, will it see further reductions in subscriber fee and advertising revenues?

Iger reassured on Tuesday’s call that everything is going in the right direction.

Said Iger: “We had our eyes wide open about what was going on and we’ve addressed what we were seeing and what we were continuing to see.”

But as far as the layoffs go … Nothing to see here people.

Isn’t this cute? Awhile back, it was noted here that Kansas was making some big changes at its stadium to increase attendance. It was going to put seat backs on the seats. I basically pointed out that you could have a stadium full of La-Z-Boy recliners, nobody is going to watch a losing team. Well, huzzah! One SBNation writer is claiming Kansas will have “a chance to not look terrible.” That’s progress. Things are looking up, with a cushion at their Jayhawk backsides.

Feeling no Draft: Speaking of Big 12 futility … as well as “nothing to see here” …

From a story at ESPN, Big 12 coaches are unfazed by the conference’s poor showing at the NFL Draft. The Big 12 produced 14 picks in last month’s NFL draft, lowest total since 1996.

Said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury: “You have cycles. You have waves. We’re obviously down when it comes to top, top prospects. We have good players, but maybe not the elite level that some of the other leagues have. I don’t think it’s panic mode yet.”

Said West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen: “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I’m a little tired of (the media) making it a big deal.”

And Said TCU’s Gary Patterson: “I don’t go out and recruit saying, ‘This guy, the only reason I’m going to take him is he fits the NFL model.’”

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