The job eliminations by the Burbank studio include 300 layoffs and another 200 positions that will go unfilled, according to the Los Angeles Times and other publications.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN chairman, wrote a memo to the staff that the publication had obtained a copy of discussing the reasons behind the layoffs.
“Together, we have overcome tremendous challenges and adversity over these past several months and please know that the decisions and plans executed today were not made lightly,” Pitaro wrote in his memo, according to the Reporter. “They are, however, necessary and I am convinced that we will move forward and effectively navigate this unprecedented disruption.”
The Reporter also stated that Pitaro said the company plans to shift its investment to align with Disney's overall strategic vision, which is to increase its focus on streaming services like ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu.
The Reporter and other media outlets also said that layoffs were taking place at Disney studios operations and Searchlight Pictures, where six employees were let go. The studio’s marketing team and theatrical group, which handles live staged performances, were also affected.
Shares in Disney (DIS) closed up $1.89, or 1.5 percent, to $126.96 on the New York Stock Exchange, on a day when the major markets also finished up.