Miller on ESPN parting ways with Olbermann: Network done spending money like George Steinbrenner

Richard Deitsch of talked to James Andrew Miller about Keith Olbermann’s pending departure from ESPN.

The author of the definitive ESPN book says it ultimately came down to one thing: Money.

“ESPN thought about it, but then decided they weren’t going to open up SportsCenter to Olbermann, nor any of their other major vehicles,” Miller said. “Once they realized they weren’t actually going to use him in significant roles and at significant times, keeping him no longer made sense. John Skipper played George Steinbrenner with several incredibly expensive talent deals in recent years, but those days are over. Olbermann was far from being a high-priced ticket by today’s Bristol standards, but a new contract wouldn’t have been insignificant. Roles and dollars were the driving forces here, not behavior.”

Meanwhile Ben Koo of Awful Announcing had this item.

It was reported that ESPN’s lackluster upcoming slate of Monday Night games was believed to be retribution for Bill Simmons and Olbermann’s criticism of the league and Goodell. To that end, we’re hearing there are some ESPN folks who think the league denied a request for a Monday Night Football matchup featuring the Cowboys against a specific opponent due to Simmons and Olbermann’s vocal criticism this past year. ESPN does have one Cowboys game on this year’s schedule but comes late in the season and on the road versus a Redskins team that went 4-12 last season.

If this indeed is the thinking in Bristol, removing Simmons and Olbermann could be classified as “business decisions” and not editorial policing as improved quality of games would certainly help drive higher ratings and revenue and improve the quality of the Monday Night Football schedule.

I supposed it seems plausible, but it also would be short-sighted on the NFL’s part to get retribution via such a high-profile Monday night package. Bad games on Monday night also damage the league.

However, Olbermann’s departure likely will make it easier for Skipper in future meetings with Goodell.


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