If ESPN is bleeding money from subscriber losses, they need to offset the damage by making cuts elsewhere in the company. That doesn’t, though, really follow, mathematically. Look at the people who have been laid off. Sure, it’s possible that veterans like McManus and Stark and Ed Werder were carrying hefty salaries, but no amount of fired reporters and columnists is going to put even the tiniest dent in ESPN’s rights fees. Add up all the salaries of the people who lost their jobs, and how much of a single Monday Night Football broadcast does it buy? Ten minutes? Fifteen?
So, then, what was the point? The memo released by ESPN president John Skipper is instructive. It was hollow and buzzword-laden in the precise way that is meant to speak to Disney investors who want to be assured that ESPN is still capable of “navigating changes in technology and fan behavior in order to continue to deliver quality, breakthrough content.”
I think we can safely say that this is now a Rule of Media: Anyone in the media who thinks what they do is “delivering content” should be delivering something else entirely — maybe pizza. And investors who buy these buzzwords are probably dumb enough to support a 120-percent tax on ordinary dividends.