Olbermann debuted on ESPN on Monday night, and early reviews have been largely positive. However, there's a sentiment that we saw coming when the announcement of his re-hire was initially made. There exists a segment of the population that have been so turned off by Olbermann's politics and his attitude that they're not going to give his new show even a cursory glance. And quite frankly, I don't blame them. The Olbermann brand is so toxic to some that even the mention of his name causes some viewers to tune out.
And that's a significant issue going forward: Olbermann is a divisive figure, and once he turns someone off, it's very hard to drag them back into the fold. Do you think that the people who grew to despise Olbermann during his stints with MSNBC and Current are going to forget about all of the disdain they had for him because he's working for ESPN and talking sports now?
ESPN faces a dilemma going forward with Olbermann. If Olbermann is mainly a show centered around Olbermann calling highlights, conducting unremarkable interviews, and getting to the grind with one good rant per show, where's the long-term viability of that program? By the same token, if ESPN takes the cuffs off of Olbermann (as some are hoping for) and lets him delve into more controversial sports topics, the program would probably be more entertaining, but come at the cost of potentially driving away more viewers.
In the long run, you wonder how the Olbermann experiment is going to end. Can these good vibes truly last? The viewers that want Olbermann to attack topics with his usual venom and snark will end up disappointed if he doesn't touch on anything remotely controversial. If Olbermann continues to talk about the need for holding the media accountable on the worldwide leader in "needing to be held accountable," it's going to fall flat.
On the other hand, the viewers that are giving him another chance will end up disappointed if the opposite happens and Olbermann goes on the warpath. ESPN is going to end up disappointed if either of the above happens and the ratings drop. Finally, Olbermann will be disappointed because he always gets disappointed after a while. The right balance Olbermann is seeking to strike is incredibly small given all these factors at hand.
And all of that is why Olbermann's past is going to make it hard for this show to live up to the lofty early reviews over time. If the host of this show were say, Craig Kilborn, there would be less opportunities to alienate segments of the audience. (Who really has a strong opinion on Kilborn one way or another?) What happens the first time Olbermann really unleashes on a topic or dips back into politics or gets into a fight with his employer?
Olbermann is the opposite of nearly everyone on ESPN. Finding someone with an indifferent opinion about him is a rarity. His polarizing personality is something that he's always thrived on, but it hasn't traditionally been a great fit in a neutral environment like ESPN. So far the reviews have been encouraging for Olbermann and ESPN, but can the peace be a lasting one?
I simply can't listen to this moron. I have to switch to the radio now to watch MLB. Just yesterday he was ridiculing Puig post game. Other commentators are able to do this all in fun without venom, but Olberpussy is all about the venom. An awful man who has no place bringing down the moods of baseball fans.
Baseball is a sport that is free from politics, and pretty much anything controversial. It is pure fun and relaxation to enjoy a game. Family oriented and patriotic! OP takes that innocence and joy away and replaces it with his caustic droning.
Why would anyone give him a paycheck on ESPN? Does he have a fan base among sports watchers?
Didn't think ESPN was so desperate that they needed to hire this political lackey as a publicity stunt! ESPN appears to be as pathetic this hack, blow hard 'wanna be' announcer. ESPN won't be invited into our house until Blow-vermann is unemployed again!
he represents a toxic element in liberal one sided opinions. He dos not stay with sports as entertainment but uses his forum for racism and political showcase. Sport is a release from the political world that Obermann swims in. He was canned before and his return has me turning off ESPN and TBS channels.
His face alone makes me turn the channel. He's THE worse sports commentator due to his heavy hand opinions and lack of facts to back up his big mouth. Can't wait to hear about his first meltdown! Bad move ESPN and TBS.
Who in their right minds thought this pathetic, divisive ex MSNBC drop out would appeal to us long time ESPN viewers? He has beclowned himself in front of this nation over and over. Furthermore why would TBS put this loser on as well? I'll skip this round and wait for real sportscasters in the next round of the MLB playoffs.
I don't want to think about politics when I go to ESPN, so I simply change the channel if Olbermann is on.
I've watched enough to know it's not working. It seems forced, as if he were trying to be the sports equivalent of Jon Stewart. Like Chris Berman, his schtick is so old and tortured that it is painful to watch.
Olbermann has lost all credibility with me. He can stick to sports but it will always be tainted. If he's on, ill find another channel.
Even if you agree with his politics, Keith Olbermann's arrogance, or rather his narcissism is quite evident.... However, there is no doubt that he is really talented, reflected in his commentaries, and to be quite honest, I was always vastly entertained by him on SportsCenter. The quick wit of Olbermann during the game recaps were always incredibly enjoyable to listen to and he's clearly brought elements from all of his previous endeavors here.
The biggest question of all is how this will work out based on his past history? At this point, he either makes this work, or he'll be out of the business for good. It's obviously that his bank account has done quite well, but for the sake of his own ego, it would seem like money wouldn't make up for the lack of doing a job that drives him.
As others have mentioned, ESPN is so entrenched with the leagues that they are paying massive sums to carry, how far will they let him go? There isn't a chance that they'll allow him to go after the leagues a la "Real Sports" and that makes many of us wonder how long Olbermann will sit before going after these entrenched interests within ESPN.
Olbermann and just about every one else at ESPN share similar politics. The difference with Olbermann is that he is more arrogant, abrasive and extremist. My problem with Bristol is it's endless identity politics....race, sexual orientation, gender issues hyped ad nauseum, with nary a dissenting view or discussion. Ever. Riley Cooper, Jason Collins, Title XI overkill, even Trayvon Martin, of which numerous network figures found it necessary to tweet their opinions. Wilbon is the worst offender, but KO is likely to surpass him. I want non-partisan, non-agenda opinions, or balanced opinions if and only if they must veer off of sports topics. ESPN needs not be the MSNBC or the FoxNews of sports.
Disliked this bonehead long before msnbc - his first time through at ESPN he was a moronic jerk - what's happened since was just affirmation
I have always had a liking for Olbermann, even though on MSNBC, he tended to lecture too much. I hope that he'll be able to get into some more controversial topics. Intelligent talk (something sorely missing from FS1's new show), plus highlights would be a winning combination in the long run. The problem is that ESPN, obviously struggling right now, is too much "in bed" with the NFL, college football, and the NBA, to allow anything to be reported on subjectively, by anyone, much less Olbermann.
If I were Olbermann, I would play a waiting game, bide my time, while using a reporting style similar to what Patrick does on his radio show (comedy, but occasionally serious). Over time, become an asset that ESPN can't do without, as the "screaming" style of the other shows implodes, then name my price. You have to take a long-term approach right now.
I am happy to have a Sports Latenight alternative. I am not turned off by his political views because I never watched his political show. If he keeps the political stuff out of his show I will probably continue watching it.
I do think this will end badly. Olbermann wants to take on controversial topics but the network will rein him in too much for his liking. Take the fact ESPN pulled out of the PBS special on concussions. The network can't anger the NFL, so Olbermann will have to steer clear of doing that, and you know he can't for long.
I think he's a great personality and hope the show lasts. I might like it more though if it was only on a few nights a week, since I'll end up watching other things at 11.
Have never liked Keith, even back in the day when he was paired with Dan Patrick. Dan had many of the same opinions, just not the craptastic personality and arrogance of Olbermann. People still actually like Dan.
I think the fun part of this drama could be how the partnership combusts in the end. Will it be a remark by Keith that brings an outcry? How about him going postal on a guest or somewhere off camera? Maybe Skip will gun him down to protect his own 'brand' of eccentricity? Or maybe ESPN will realize he doesn't bring the numbers and doesn't renew his contract. Hope it is more exciting than that.
He's trying to be the Rachel Madow of sports broadcasting...The sad thing is he's not funny and doesn't add any insight...Without Mark Cuban on Monday the show would have been a total waste...
When olbermann was hired, not only did I decide to never watch his show, I decided to stop watching ESPN at all. I won't support any network that would hire a person like him. Oh, and Skip sucks too....
@Jimmydunk Precisely, Olbermann has no credibility, why in the world would ESPN hire this good for nothing, loser again???? Thank goodness for Fox Sports and other sports channel options!
@EricCohen Answer: IT's not working, bad choice to bring on a polarizing personality like this ex MSNBC loser.
@Brian McSmirky Cooper Shows that you prefer arrogant, abrasive sports personalities. Congrats, you are in a very small, unique group of sports fans. Majority of us would rather change the channel than watch this pompas egotist.
@Gigs O Data Recommend that you pull up some old YouTube videos on his tyrants and political views. If you don't come away with a different view of this has-been, political hack, you aren't paying enough attention.
@KevinSmith4 I and many others are in agreement! He's a self loving, know-it-all, egotist blowhard.