“If you bet the under, you lost!,” gloated Keith Olbermann gleefully at the start of his show tonight. Olbermann has officially made it to a year at ESPN and, for the most part, the network has left him alone. Actually, for the entire part they seem to have left him alone. No suspensions, no apparent disappearances from Twitter, even haranguing the NFL commissioner and occasionally his fellow ESPN personalities haven’t caused more than a stir and plaudits from sports media critics and detractions from conservatives on Twitter who probably didn’t watch the show anyway.
The show appears to be here to stay, and moving to a new timeslot. Starting September 8th, the ESPN2 series will air weeknights at 5 p.m. ET. That will combine it in a power-hour of sports intelligentsia with Outside the Lines, as Olbermann scales back to a half-hour. Who’d have ever thought we be living in an age of a Keith Olbermann/Bob Ley lovefest?
With the show moving to early evenings, Keith will take one more giant step in his improbable return to The Worldwide Leader: he will occasionally host SportsCenter. That’s right: Keith Olbermann. In Bristol. For the first time in what has to be 17 or so years. His first selfie from HQ might get more retweets than Ellen’s Oscar photo.
ESPN’s press release doesn’t specify when Keith will host SportsCenter, but EVP of program scheduling and production Norby Williamson suggests it will be “key editions of SportsCenter surrounding major news or events throughout the year.” One would assume it might surround events such as the anniversary of Pete Rose’s banishment from baseball, which the network aired a one-hour special hosted by Olbermann on Monday night.
As unlikely as it may have seemed even 18 months ago, Keith Olbermann’s return to ESPN appears to have been successful. A move to a new timeslot and a chance to return to SportsCenter is a low-risk, big buzz move for ESPN now that Olbermann’s shown he can play nice and stick around for a little bit. What an age we live in.
Here’s the new ESPN2 daily lineup, Olbermann and OTL will compete head-to-head with ESPN powerhouse originals Around the Horn and PTI:
3:00 p.m. SportsNation
4:00 p.m. Highly Questionable
4:30 p.m. You Herd Me with Colin Cowherd
5:00 p.m. Olbermann
5:30 p.m. Outside the Lines