The cable sports giant continues to cut costs amid subscriber losses.
ESPN announced its latest round of layoffs on Wednesday in a memo to employees, as Walt Disney’s cable sports giant continues looking for ways to cut costs following the exodus of millions of subscribers in recent years.
ESPN president John Skipper did not specify the number of staffers who will be departing the network, or any specific names, but various reports on Wednesday morning put the tally at 100. That number reportedly includes more than a few on-air personalities and writers from ESPN’s roster of television, radio, and online operations. The move to trim staff follows multiple reports last month that more layoffs were on the way at ESPN, which cut 300 jobs in 2015 and has seen its subscriber totals continue to decline in recent years due to an increase in people going without traditional cable, known as cord-cutting. In March, reports noted that ESPN was looking to cut as much as $250 million from this year’s budget.
The list of on-air talent and beat writers reportedly leaving ESPN as part of the layoffs—some of whom announced their own departures via social media—includes longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder, as well as NHL columnist Scott Burnside, and NHL broadcaster Pierre LeBrun, according to a running list compiled by Sports Illustrated. Other on-air personalities, including MLB announcer Karl Ravitch and network veteran Hannah Storm, could also see their roles at ESPN “significantly reduced,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In his memo to employees, ESPN’s Skipper cited shifts “in technology and fan behavior” while noting that “changes” to the network’s talent lineup will take effect this week. “Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands,” Skipper wrote. In a separate statement tied to Skipper’s announcement, ESPN added that its focus going forward will include the flagship SportsCenter shows as well as a ramped up social media presence and more digital-only content for the ESPN app.
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As Fortune has noted, ESPN’s subscriber totals have dipped by more than 10 million over the past few years in a sign of changing times for broadcasters across the board. Meanwhile, the network’s finances have been further crunched by rising affiliate fees and necessary increases in spending to hold onto ESPN’s lucrative sports broadcasting rights. One estimate has ESPN’s programming costs exceeding $8 billion in 2017, most of which is earmarked for fees that are part of the network’s long-term deals with sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB, along with college sports.
Parent company Walt Disney, which will report its latest quarterly earnings next week, has seen its overall financial results hurt in recent years due to the falling advertising revenue at ESPN that has been spurred by the loss of subscribers.