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Photo: David Kohl / AP file

ESPN is laying off another 100 staffers, per Sports Illustrated. The news broke shortly before ESPN's parent company, Walt Disney Co. announced that its' cable networks revenue, driven mostly by ESPN, was down year over year. Advertising was down by the lower single digits. A reported decrease in ad impressions was offset by higher ad rates.

Why it matters: Once hailed the king of cable, ESPN is now a reflection of what many in the cable industry are facing today: a steady loss in subscribers, higher production costs and stagnant ad revenues. Earlier this year, Disney purchased a majority stake in BAMTech, the cutting-edge digital TV provider for MLB Network, WWE and others, to transition programming onto an on-demand, digital platform. But that integration isn't slated to finish for some time, and in the interim, ESPN needs to adjust its cost structure, including talent, while it adapts to the changing landscape.

Countering losses, the company revealed more details about its planned digital sports streaming service which is set to debut in part next year.

  • The service, called "ESPN Plus" will launch next spring and will be available through a new redesigned version of the ESPN app. It will stream channels on an authenticated basis and consumers can subscribe to the app for additional sports content.
  • The service will be ad-supported, unlike its sister entertainment product that Disney plans to launch for movies and shows in 2019 to rival Netflix
  • The investment in Bamtech will be costly upfront, Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors on Thursday's earnings call. "Consolidation of Bamtech will adversely impact cable operating income by about $130 million compared to last year," Iger said. "Roughly half the Bamtech-related impact will happen in Q1 of next year."

Go deeper

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.