Sinclair Broadcasting Group, one of the largest local station groups, is laying off around 5% of its staff amid a continued economic impact by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt across all sectors of the economy, something that can have a profound impact on a company as diversified as ours,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement. “From local businesses and advertisers to distributors and partners, no component of our business’s ecosystem has been fully shielded from the impact of the global pandemic. In response to this, we are currently undergoing enterprise-wide reductions across our workforce, including corporate headquarters, to ensure we are well-positioned for future success.”
Sinclair, which acquired the regional sports networks that Fox sold off to Disney as part of its $71.3 billion sale, was particularly impacted by the sports shutdown last year. The company operates around 130 local TV stations.
Though the majority of sports leagues were able to start back up, the number of games was far fewer than they would have been in typical years. For example, the 2020 MLB season was drastically reduced from 162 games to only 60 this year, while the NBA and NHL had fewer cancelations. Those sports, especially during the regular season, play out primarily on local markets’ regional sports networks. Both of the current NBA and NHL seasons are shorter than usual as well.
Some cable operators have given its customers refunds over lost sports games.