Two well-known ESPN reporters who live in Bucks County were among the staffers who were laid off Wednesday.
College basketball reporter Dana O’Neil, who lives in the Yardley area, and baseball reporter Jayson Stark, who lives in the Newtown area, were among the roughly 100 let go as part of the staff reduction.
Add me to the list. Just got the 'call.' I've been informed my contract will not be renewed at ESPN.
— Dana O'Neil (@DanaONeilWriter) April 26, 2017
For 17 yrs I've had a dream job covering baseball for ESPN. Today is my last day. Thanks to all the great people at ESPN, MLB & all of you!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 26, 2017
ESPN made cuts, many to popular reporters and on-air personalities, as the international sports broadcaster and news source loses more and more subscribers from its powerhouse cable TV brand that is worth billions.
O’Neil spoke with students at Pennwood Middle School in Lower Makefield in December 2015. She explained that her basketball beat required her traveling around the country for stories and features. The students were also encouraged by the ESPN reporter to write about their passions.
“Some of the most interesting people I meet aren’t the most famous,” O’Neil said, citing 7,000 word feature she penned a Michigan basketball player who survived two separate plane crashes that killed five members of his family.
Disney, the parent company of ESPN and the ABC network, has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past few years as viewers drop their cable subscription for other alternatives. The loss in subscribers hurts advertising income and shrinks revenue as the company continues to sign multi-billion-dollar deals with sports leagues, like the eight-year $15.2 billion NFL deal.
“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands,” ESPN President John Skipper wrote in a public letter to employees.
ESPN has noticeably been shifting its brand over the past several years with more of a focus on analyst and personalities on TV and multi-media content of the internet.
Skipper noted that while there are layoffs, the company will be posting some new job openings in the coming weeks.