Sports media Friday: Olbermann and ESPN could be done, but likely over money, not his commentaries; Fox defends U.S. Open coverage

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Keith Olbermann and ESPN may be parting ways, according to Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter. However, I am not buying that it is over a supposed demand by ESPN that Olbermann stop doing his commentaries on his show.

Guthrie writes:

ESPN and Keith Olbermann may be headed toward a tough negotiation to keep the outspoken host on the sports network. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that ESPN has floated a highly problematic condition for an extension of Olbermann’s initial two-year deal: that he cease engaging in “commentary” on his ESPN2 program.

The issue likely stems from Olbermann’s critical assessment of the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal that exploded last summer when an elevator video of Rice punching then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the face surfaced after the NFL had imposed a slap-on-the-wrist, two-game suspension on the Baltimore Ravens star running back. Olbermann repeatedly hammered NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. In a lengthy commentary at the top of his Aug. 1 broadcast, he called on the commissioner to “resign” after what Olbermann described as a “weak, damaging and almost enabling reaction” to the episode.

I would be shocked if that was the reason. ESPN would get killed with that kind of request. Olbermann should shout it from the rooftops.

Besides, Olbermann’s entire show is a commentary. You can’t put a muzzle on him.

I suspect this is the real reason. Writes Guthrie:

And there are signs that ESPN’s spending may need to be reined in. Though ESPN parent Disney realized gains in second-quarter earnings, operating income at Disney media networks — which includes ABC, ESPN and the company’s kid-targeted cable channels — fell 2 percent due to rising programming and production costs at ESPN.

Right, it’s about money, friends. Olbermann makes a lot of it, and ESPN might not be willing to pay.

I am a big Olbermann fan. Here’s hoping it works out for him at ESPN.

Fox defends its U.S. Open coverage. John Ourand and John Lombardo report in Sports Business Daily.

In their first public comments since the U.S. Open, Fox Sports and U.S. Golf Association executives expressed confidence that Fox’s production will improve at next year’s U.S. Open in Oakmont, Pa. John Entz, Fox Sports president of production and executive producer, acknowledged some mistakes in an exclusive interview with SportsBusiness Journal but said he was pleased overall with how Fox produced the tournament.

“We had 700 people working together for the first time,” Entz said. “As any rational person could imagine, there’s going to be some bumps in the road when that happens, especially when your first true show is a show that size. You’re going to have a steep learning curve.”

USGA executive Sarah Hirshland said the association was happy with the telecast, which averaged 3.5 million viewers over four days, including a Sunday prime-time average of 8.7 million viewers, marking Fox’s largest Sunday night audience since an NFL playoff game in early January. Hirshland said she noticed improvements in production quality from Thursday’s opening round to Sunday’s finale.

“Certainly there is always room to get better,” said Hirshland, USGA’s senior managing director of business affairs. “We are pleased to be going on the air yet again with them for the U.S. Senior Open [this past weekend] and the Women’s Open [next month]. That kind of repetition and experience, with all of us working together, will continue to make us better.”

The Sports Journalism Institute at Columbia published an extensive edition on the Associated Press Sports Editors convention.

Tom Verducci talks about the craft with Richard Deitsch in a SI Media podcast.

Long-time Associated Press sports editor Terry Taylor gets her turn in the “Still No Cheering in the Press Box” series by the Povich Center for Sports Journalism.

Jessie Karangu of the Povich Center interviews Tim Brandt on his long career reporting on sports in Washington D.C.

One thought on “Sports media Friday: Olbermann and ESPN could be done, but likely over money, not his commentaries; Fox defends U.S. Open coverage

  1. Olbermann’s first two segments, commentary and world’s worst, are the two best parts worth watching. They prevent me from flipping the channel, which I might do later in the show.

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