About a dozen jobs were eliminated at Comcast SportsNet Chicago this week as the regional sports network prepares for a major overhaul to its programming lineup, sources said Thursday.
The layoffs are believed to be the first in the 12-year history of Comcast SportsNet here. At least 11 positions were in the area of studio crews and production personnel, according to insiders. No on-air employees were affected.
A spokesman for the network declined to comment on the layoffs but released a statement signaling significant changes ahead in the presentation of sports news.
“We are currently reformatting our programming lineup in order to better serve the CSN Chicago fanbase,” the statement said. “A new slate of offerings will be introduced in the near future designed to provide our fans with even more compelling sports content that will better suit the needs of today’s evolving sports audience.”
Sources said the changes could be effective by early December, with the network moving away from traditional studio-bound anchored programs (such as the nightly “SportsNet Central”) in favor of shows designed to be more interactive (via social media) and provide a more entertaining viewpoint of the day’s sports news.
Despite the popularity of Chicago’s sports franchises — most notably Cubs baseball and Blackhawks hockey — Comcast SportsNet has lost thousands of subscribers in recent years as consumers have unbundled from cable and switched to other platforms for sports news and information.