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Little to no impact on India operations from ESPN layoffs in the US

01-December-2017
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Little to no impact on India operations from ESPN layoffs in the US

Despite US-based sports broadcaster ESPN laying off 150 people, its India operations has been on a hiring spree across different verticals since last year. However, according to industry sources, few employees had to face the heat of the US debacle.

An ESPN India spokesperson confirmed the development on hiring saying, “The team in India comprises approximately 120+ people. And while as a policy we do not disclose specific personnel details, we have hired and will continue to hire across multiple areas of growth including editorial, technology, sales and marketing, and more.”

He added, “ESPN is going strong in India with both our digital business and our long-term Sony ESPN collaboration. India is a dynamic and growing market and we are focused on creating innovative and quality programs to cater to the growing audience of sports fans.”

In fact, the US-based sports broadcaster is using its digital operations in India to tap into growing demand for sports other than cricket, according to media reports. It has reportedly seen a sharp increase in traffic on its new website for multi-sports content, espn.in. Reports mention it is witnessing 43 per cent year-on-year increase in unique views for football, 160 per cent for tennis, 200 per cent for badminton and 60 per cent for basketball. Its other digital property, ESPN cricinfo, a cricket content platform, has also been doing well.

ESPN has a long-term collaboration with Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) for the launch of two SONYESPN-branded television channels and digital assets in India and the subcontinent.

While ESPN reportedly laid off 100 people including well-known American on-air personalities and long-term employees earlier this year, this time the layoffs involved people from studio production, digital content and technology in the US. In October 2015, it had fired about 300 people.

It was reported by international media that the network’s president, John Skipper, who has led ESPN since 2012, had his contract extended earlier this month. In September, he reshuffled responsibilities of top executives for the second time this year.

According to media reports, the network has been searching for ways to cut costs as fans increasingly watch sports video clips on their mobile devices rather than through traditional TV shows. The other obstacle is that ESPN is locked into expensive, long-term contracts for programming with sports leagues and thus downsizing is turning out to be the only option.

Tags India SONY ESPN ESPN Cricinfo layoffs John Skipper

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