Nov 9, 2017

ESPN laying off staff, will launch "ESPN Plus" next spring

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

The rematch of the century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The weekend's biggest sporting event is Wilder-Fury II, which despite its name is not an action movie sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but, rather, a boxing match starring arguably the two best heavyweights in the world.

The backdrop: In their first meeting in December 2018, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a memorable show at Staples Center, with Fury surviving a brutal right hand in the 12th round to earn a split-decision draw.

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers as Israel confirms first case

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship — as Israel confirmed its first case among evacuees from the ship.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 76,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health