battle of the network stars

Ever wonder who’d win a game of tug-of-war between CBS and ABC?

Ok, you probably haven’t, but you might found out soon anyway, as ABC is rebooting the 1970s and 80s hit “Battle of the Network Stars,” a game show that pits TV personalities from ABC, CBS and NBC against each other in athletic competitions. Previous contest have included kayak races, tug-of-war and 3-on-3 football.

According to Variety, ABC has begun a casting search in hopes of shooting in May and airing the special over the summer.

The original “Battle of the Network Stars” aired on ABC between 1976 and 1988, with Howard Cosell hosting all but one year. Other hosts included Bruce Jenner, O.J. Simpson, Frank Gifford and Billy Crystal, while competitors included Cheryl Tiegs, Robin Williams, Tom Selleck, William Shatner, Mr. T and many, many others. The specials were often held twice a year, in May and December.

Many of the original “Battle of the Network Stars” specials are available on YouTube some 35 years later, and you can lose quite a bit of time watching, say, soap opera star William DeVane playing 3-on-3 football against “That’s Incredible” host Cathy Lee Crosby. The best part is Cosell’s commentary, which falls somewhere between amusement and mockery.

ABC has had success with remakes of other classic game shows like “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Match Game,” and “The $100,000 Pyramid.

The success of the “Battle of the Network Stars” reboot will likely depend on the caliber of TV personality ABC can round up, but the idea worked once before, so it’s worth seeing if it can work once again.


About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Stuie299

    But there are four major networks now and I hope they don’t pretend otherwise.

  • Stuie299

    We need to get Dan Le Batard involved in this, so we can count the number of times he says “Can we please recognize the absurdity…”

  • C-Sharp

    Good luck trying to get today’s overpaid “stars” to show how inept they are in an athletic competition.

  • Sting Rey

    will they stick to the 4 networks or will they incorporate all the new networks including cable?
    or to avoid mass confusion, just merge the networks under their parent companies. so bravo and A&E falls under NBC. FX, FXX for fox and comedy central and mtv for CBS.
    if this is the case NBC wins as they have USA which airs Raw and Smackdown.

    • Justin_Herrick

      A&E would fall under ABC/Disney with your theory.

  • Jamesir Bensonmum

    As much as I detest Berman, he’d be perfect for this.

  • souvien

    something tells me that this won’t quite measure up to the the original’s Adrienne Barbeau, Charlene Tilton, or the Landers sisters bra-less in tank tops!

    • Joe D Pufnstuf


  • Walt_Gekko

    Not sure it would work now. It did in the ’70s and ’80s because many stars were bigger than life then and were not garnering the huge salaries they do now. A lot of them probably would not want to do it today unlike then.

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