Ex-ESPN host Bob Ley slams network layoffs: Enjoy your Disney stock price and NFL football

Retired ESPN star Bob Ley ripped his former employer for recent layoffs at the Disney-owned sports network.

Ley, the former host of "Outside the Lines," lamented the "journalistic experience and expertise jettisoned."

ESPN on Thursday announced it will eliminate 300 jobs, according to a memo sent to staff, while also saying it will not fill 200 open positions as the industry struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The cuts will reduce ESPN's staff to about 5,000.

“Trying to remain objective and unemotional as I learn of the @espn team members laid off today. Not possible,” Ley tweeted on Thursday. “Not as I see countless decades of journalistic experience, and expertise jettisoned. Just when we need it most. Enjoy the [Disney] stock price and your NFL football.”

Disney stock closed up $2 to $126.96 on Thursday, while ESPN's Monday Night Football featuring the Bucs and Giants on Nov. 2 drew 11.7 million viewers, the most-watched NFL week eight contest since the 2015 season. ESPN reportedly is in talks to obtain rights to Sunday Night Football, currently a top-rated program on NBC.

“The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro wrote.

For months, ESPN had almost no live sports programming outside of cornhole tournaments and Korean baseball games, leading to decimated ratings.