The cord-cutting era has hit many networks over the past years, but of all of them, ESPN is near the top of the list. Licensing fees for many sporting events have gone up, while their total number of subscribers over the years has declined with more and more people looking for other ways to consume content.
What happens in the process of that? It’s rather simple: You have to cut costs where you can. Today, it means that the network is laying off resident SportsCenter reporter John Clayton, one of the most respected people
In a super-classy statement on Twitter, Clayton had the following to say about his departure:
“I guess you saw the news. After 23 years I won’t be contributing to ESPN. Two words. Thank you. My bosses and co-workers are the best. I am well taken care of by ESPN. I have daily show on 710 ESPN Seattle 10 to 12 pacific. I fill in on Sirius on moving the chains.”
Clayton also joked that he is “keeping the ponytail,” a reference to the now-infamous SportsCenter commercial where, after filing his segment, it was revealed that he was really a grunge stoner with a completely different persona than the one that he carried on television. You can check that out below in all of its ridiculous nostalgia.
Clayton’s exit is a further indicator of the struggle that many media companies now face, as they have to find a way to be able to afford putting out content, while also bringing on personalities that people love and have a connection to. Clayton is one of those people who there is a connection to just because he’s been reporting for so long, but many of the viewers who appreciated his work weren’t actually giving much money back to ESPN anymore. This isn’t blaming them by any means, given that the way that current programming is structured makes it difficult to create a supportive environment. Why pay for something that you can find online legally for free? It’s an argument that many viewers and sports fans have with themselves.
In the end, let’s just salute John for being one of the best personalities out there in sports TV history. As for everyone else at ESPN, the biggest thing to note is to be prepared — there could be further exits coming if the past year is any indication. (Photo: ESPN.)