An inspired idea: Now up to Olbermann to make it work

It really couldn’t have worked out better for ESPN. The network needed to diffuse some of the hype being generated by the pending launch of Fox Sports 1.

Also with some hints that ratings are eroding in certain places, the network had to create a program that will get people talking.

Welcome back, Keith OIbermann.

I think it’s a terrific idea with massive upside potential. Olbermann is a unique talent with unique views. He remains passionate about sports. Don’t get him started talking about “Merkle’s Boner.”

Plus, Olbermann is a big name with a proven track record on ESPN. Who are you going to watch at 11 p.m.: A couple of unknown guys from Canada on Fox Sports 1 or Olbermann’s new show of ESPN2?

In my mind, his hiring makes more sense than counting on an 81-year-old Regis Philbin to drive a sports talk show. No offense, Regis.

Besides, what’s the risk for ESPN President John Skipper? He is inserting Olbermann in a ESPN2 slot that is basically virgin territory. And if Olbermann proves difficult to work with again? OK, been there, done that.

It all is on Olbermann’s shoulders to make this work. There’s a good reason why he sounded somewhat contrite during a teleconference Wednesday. At 54, he realizes opportunities like this aren’t going to come around again.

“I’ve been gone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network,” Olbermann said. “Our histories are indelibly intertwined and frankly I have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality of that story would be a completely positive one. I’m grateful to friends and bosses — old and new — who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I’m not going to waste it.”


Welcome back to the wide world of sports, Keith. If the stories aren’t about you, Olbermann could be a big hit for ESPN2.






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