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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

29 mins ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."