Keth Olberman is returning to ESPN -- and immediately raising the stakes in that network's battle to fend off the charge of the new Fox Sports 1.
As one of the most recognizable SportsCenter personalities over the years, Olbermann is credited with giving ESPN much of its edge and wit, when he exhibited a winning irreverence. But over the years, his demeanor hardened on the air. I personally preferred the informal, funny Olbermann to the in-your-face angry anchor.
Where has he been lately? Olbermann has been pretty much laying low, except for his Twitter feeds, since he left Current TV a year ago. He'll now host an hour-long talk show ESPN2, beginning on Aug. 26 at 11 p.m., ET. It will be called Olbermann. He had had stints with Fox, MSNBCand Current since he left ESPN in 1997.
Olbermann said he appreciates the "fresh start" he is now gettng at ESPN.
But actually, he probably hadlittle alternative to come back to ESPN.
He had left other networks in less than a quiet fashion, the media noted, and this might have been his best shot to get back on TV at all. Olbermann is skilled at getting viewers excited with his tough talk so perhaps this will be what ESPN needs to fire up its audience.
Fox Sports 1, meanwhile, probably played a role in ESPN's decision to bring back one of its old stars. Fox's sports network launches on Aug. 17 and is bound to have a lot of fanfare.
ESPN needs all of the star power that it can muster to show that it will continue to be The Worldwide Leader in Sports -- and getting good publicity.
Get the latest headlines from Jon Friedmans Media Matrix delivered to your inbox every day.