NBC has announced that the soon to be rebranded NBC Sports Network (currently Versus), will kickoff 2012 with a pair of new shows featuring Bob Costas. The shows are very similar to his previous shows at HBO with Costas Now and On The Record, which he had to walk away from in order to call games for the MLB Network as HBO was firm in requiring cable exclusivity. From the NYT...
"The first town hall meeting will be shown on the Thursday night before the Super Bowl, which NBC is carrying. “The meetings will attempt to, in a lively way, address for the most part substantive issues, sometimes they’ll be a celebration of aspects of sports,” he said. “Some will be more humorous than others, but the balance will be journalistic.”
The interview program, “Costas Tonight,” will start in the spring. “For lack of a better description,” he said, “it will be like a Larry King-Piers Morgan format."
In a nutshell, I'm game and think it's definitely a shrewd move for NBC Sports Network who continue to be creative in terms of bolstering their original programming. Let's not forget it wasn't too long ago that low rent programming like Fanarchy and The Daily Line were not doing the network any favors.
Growing up in the 80's and 90's, Bob Costas was a major part of my acclimation to sports. A jack of all trades, Costas was a major part of NBC's MLB, NFL, and NBA coverage.
The 90's were a special time for NBC and Costas was the face of the network. This tidbit from Wikipedia really highlights how pivotal both NBC and Costas was to sports fans.
"During the 1995-96 television season, for the only time in history, the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Summer Olympics were telecast by the same network."
Unfortunately for Costas and fans of his work, NBC hit a bit of cold streak on the sports front as MLB, NBA, and the NFL all would find new network partners. The end result - more Joe Buck and in non Olympic years, really very very little Bob Costas. That is unless of course you stalked his many cameo appearances in shows and movies like Baseketball, Pootie Tang, Monk, The Drew Carey Show, Coach Carter, and The Scout.
With a little bit of bandwidth to pursue other endeavors, Costas launched a successful radio show as well doing a lot of thought provocative work for HBO. Although not massive hits, generally speaking his work at HBO was very well received, often bringing new light to a lot of personalities and stories that flew under the radar including the infamous episode covering the role of sports blogs.
While it's definitely good to see NBC Sports Network and Costas ramping up solid programming, I think many sports fans would really prefer to see NBC reclaim the MLB television rights which expire in 2013. The NBA would also be a great addition as well, but I think fans are generally pretty happy with how ABC/ESPN and TNT have showcased the sport opposed to MLB which could definitely use a change of scenery as ratings continue to decline. Plus, Costas has been doing work for MLB Network making it a potentially a better fit.
It'll be interesting to see the debut of both shows and I'm curious who he'll book early on and what topics his townhall show will cover out of the gate. We'll certainly cover those developments when more details become available. Until then, Costas definitely has his dillies on the peppa tane.