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ESPN lays off top on-air talent

<i>David Dee Delgado/Reuters/Ethan Miller/Bob Levey/Marcus Ingram/Getty Images</i><br/>Left to right
David Dee Delgado/Reuters/Ethan Miller/Bob Levey/Marcus Ingram/Getty Images
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By Nathaniel Meyersohn and Jon Passantino, CNN

New York (CNN) — ESPN is laying off around 20 high-profile sports commentators as part of a cost-cutting initiative, a source with knowledge of the layoffs told CNN.

Among those let go were Max Kellerman, Keyshawn Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, Jalen Rose and LaPhonso Ellis, the source said. Suzy Kolber also announced she had been laid off.

The cuts to Disney’s global workforce are part of a multibillion-dollar cost-cutting initiative aimed at streamlining the company’s operations. The company reported operating profit grew 56%, to $12.1 billion, in 2022.

“Given the current environment, ESPN has determined it necessary to identify some additional cost savings in the area of public-facing commentator salaries,” ESPN said in a statement.

The company did not comment on who was laid off, but some of the former network staff began to announce their departures on social media.

“Today I join the many hard-working colleagues who have been laid off. Heartbreaking-but 27 years at ESPN was a good run,” Kolber said on Twitter. “Longevity for a woman in this business is something I’m especially proud of.”

All of these commentators are under contract, the person familiar with the matter told CNN, all have an opportunity to explore other options despite their contracts, this person said. But the source stressed that the cuts were simply a matter of cost-cutting, and not related to job performance.

Disney (DIS), which owns ESPN, is laying off 7,000 employees. The person familiar with the plans said that ESPN’s layoffs were unrelated to the broader layoffs at Disney (DIS).

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