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ESPN Asked Its Top 100 Broadcast Talent To Take Pay Cuts To Prevent Furloughs For Other Employees

A world without sports is a dour one, and for organizations like ESPN it’s also an existential crisis. Sports networks have scrambled to keep airtime filled as the NBA, NHL and MLB continue to stay on pause as coronavirus spreads throughout the United States and the world at large, and the network has

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ESPN has asked its top 100 on-air commentators to take a pay cut during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to save jobs and keep from furloughing others working at the network. The network issued a statement about the decision to THR that said the measure lines up with what executives at the company have already done to their own salaries.

“We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction,” the company said in a statement. “These are challenging times and we are all in this together.”

The commentators are expected to take cuts of approximately 15 percent of their salaries, likely for about three months.

The network’s executives took pay cuts earlier this month, corresponding to level of seniority at the network.

Sports Business Journal reported that the effort was stressed to agents and on-air talent that the paycuts would “deter furloughs for ESPN employees who may be in more precarious financial positions than some of the on-air commentators,”

It’s shaping up to be a difficult 2020 for ESPN, which in 2019 saw layoffs and other efforts to cut costs as the cost of live sports packages increase while cable subscriber rates sag in the wake of new technology and the rise of cord-cutting. Moreover, ESPN’s parent company, Disney, is expecting heavy losses across its companies as coronavirus not only impacts sports but the production of movies, television and keeps movie theaters closed.

It’s a difficult time across nearly every industry and there’s nothing many can do but wait until things blow over and industries can pick up the pieces. But it’s clear ESPN is anticipating some tough decisions, and this may just be the first of them.