It doesn’t look like employees could be the only victims of ESPN’s massive cuts.
ESPN’s ACC Network — the ACC analogue to the SEC Network — is currently scheduled to launch in 2019. However, because of ESPN’s recent cuts, it is leading some to believe that the ACC Network’s launch could be in danger.
Syracuse.com had a recent profile on the emerging ACC Network, citing two separate sources on the future of the network. One of those was former ESPN executive and current Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack, who says that the ACC has the agreement for the network to launch in 2019, and that he expect that agreement to be upheld.
“It won’t impact our deal with the ACC,” Wildhack said of ESPN’s recent cuts. “Our deal runs through 2036. The ACC Network will launch as scheduled in 2019. I think ESPN will put all their muscle and support toward making sure the launch is a success because they are a partner and they have a vested interest in making sure the ACC Network is a financial success.”
Contrasting against that were some thoughts from noted ESPN expert Jim Miller, who said on a recent podcast that he is unsure about the future of the network following ESPN’s cutbacks.
“I wouldn’t count on it,” Miller said. “I think that is part of the recalculation they are doing looking forward, in particular since that will be on the eve of these big rights deals we have been talking about. And they are going to need to save money.”
Miller did admit that Wildhack may have more insight into this area that he does.
The impetus for the ESPN cutbacks are the massive loss in subscribers over the past several years as people have either cut cable entirely or downgraded to a package that doesn’t have the massive ESPN bill tagged on. With ESPN having billions to payout annually in rights fees for the NFL, NBA, college football, etc., the company has had to find ways to cut back as their revenue falls from the millions and millions of lost subscribers.
Most of the recent victims of ESPN’s cuts have been on-air personalities, including longtime employees like Ed Werder, Jayson Stark, Brett McMurphy, and Marc Stein. Overall, it is believed that ESPN will end up laying off over 100 employees.