ESPN layoffs hit Charlotte offices

ESPNU studio in Charlotte
ESPNU studio in Charlotte

When you watch a college football halftime show on ESPNU, the studio you’re seeing will no longer be in Charlotte.

As part of a round of about 100 layoffs companywide, the sports network is moving its ESPNU studio operation from Charlotte to Bristol, Conn., where ESPN is based, a source close to the matter told the Observer. A few ESPNU positions will remain in Charlotte, primarily the people responsible for producing the large number of events that air on the channel.

In total, fewer than 10 people in Charlotte are being laid off. The SEC network operations, as well as an events division, will remain in Charlotte. ESPN employs about 200 people locally.

As viewers increasingly are cutting their cable cords, ESPN has been grappling with a declining subscriber base, as well as increasing broadcasting rights fees for sports programming. In October 2015, the network laid off about 300 people company wide.

At its Ballantyne offices, ESPNU primarily handles “wraps” – pre-game, halftime and post-game shows – as well as NCAA selection shows and signing day specials.

It’s unclear which ESPN staffers in Charlotte lost their jobs. Several employees throughout the company, including Charlotte-based ESPNU host Brendan Fitzgerald, took to Twitter to announce they had been laid off.

Longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder was among the first to say he’d been terminated.

Those who lost their jobs in Charlotte will be able to apply to other jobs at ESPN offices. One potential area they could turn to down the line is the ACC Network, which ESPN plans to launch in 2019, though it has not yet decided where it will base the network’s operations.

In a memo to employees Wednesday, network president John Skipper said the network has had to make “difficult decisions” that affect employees in its talent lineup, as well as “a limited number of positions” elsewhere in the company.

According to several reports, about 100 people were laid off Wednesday.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta