May 25, 2024

NFL Network apparently pulls plug on Total Access

Old networks never die, they just fade away.

NFL Network, launched by the league on November 1, 2003, is fading fast.

First came the bizarre decision to take a popular morning show off the air for months (at a minimum) and relocate it from one coast to the other. Now comes a round of post-draft layoffs that apparently will end Total Access, the nightly studio show devoted to all things NFL.

Ben Axelrod of reports that “the majority of the show’s staff” was laid off on Friday.

The show remains on NFLN’s online schedule.

“Like any successful organization, the NFL regularly evaluates its workforce to ensure the proper support of strategic priorities including international expansion, the growth of flag football, and the evolution of digital and media platforms,” the league told Axelrod in a statement. “We have made the difficult decision to part ways with some employees to allow us to further invest in these growth areas and ensure the continued strength of our game and the business.”

A.J. Perez of separately reported that the league concluded a round of layoffs over the past 24 hours, with “some NFL Network employees” included.

It’s not uncommon for the league to tighten the belt after the draft. That’s when the work flow dips, making it easier to part ways with employees and regroup. It is uncommon for the league to systematically dismantle a cable channel that is becoming a YouTube channel of old games and NFL Films shows. Really, what’s left on NFL Network if/when Total Access goes?

The move comes at a time when some expect ESPN to acquire NFL Media as part of a broader deal that would give the league equity in ESPN. If that’s what will be happening, ESPN will basically be buying a skeleton.