ESPN Esports Hit By Company-Wide Layoffs

ESPN Esports lost its star reporter in company-wide layoffs announced Thursday.
ESPN Esports lost its star reporter in company-wide layoffs announced Thursday. / Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Company-wide layoffs at ESPN have affected the outlet's esports section. Seemingly among them is breaking news reporter Jacob Wolf, who will leave the company when his contract expires in January, according to the The Esports Observer.

Wolf declined to comment when contacted by the Observer, which further reported ESPN might focus more on video content.

Wolf, who joined ESPN Esports in March 2016 as a 19-year-old, is one of 300 employees to lose their jobs at ESPN in this round of layoffs. The company also has no plans to fill 200 pre-existing vacancies, constituting a 10% workforce reduction worldwide.

At least four ESPN Esports employees have revealed on Twitter they they were affected by the layoffs: editors Sean Morrison and Brian Bencomo, features writer Emily Rand, and video producer Thomas Tischio.

In a company memo obtained by NPR, ESPN and sports content chairman Jimmy Pitaro blamed the cutbacks on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports," Pitaro said. "The pandemic's significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions."

The company says it tried to avoid terminations by cutting executive, talent salaries and budgets in addition to implementing furloughs, but that those efforts proved insufficient.