According to reports, ESPN’s solution to last season’s downturn in Sunday NFL Countdown ratings is making an effort to bring back Chris Berman.
That comes via a report in the New York Post from Andrew Marchand. Berman’s potential return could see him contributing more to Countdown, as well as possibly anchoring some Sunday editions of SportsCenter:
While the move would not be for a full-time position, sources said the possibility of Berman contributing more to or even hosting some Sunday night “SportsCenter”s has been broached.
There is a hope that Berman could work a quarter of the NFL season, according to sources. ESPN would want Berman for more, but in semi-retirement, Berman already has made plans for some weekends, and so that is likely unfeasible — at least for this year.
In addition to appearing on “SportsCenter” this season, Berman also could do more features and interviews to aid “Sunday NFL Countdown,” whose ratings dropped by double digits in Berman’s first year away from the program.
Marchand notes that the resurgence of Norby Williamson as a lead voice for ESPN’s studio programming is a big reason Berman might be returning:
Berman’s potential comeback coincides with executive vice president of production Norby Williamson re-emerging as the leader of the network’s studio programming. Williamson has championed some ESPN classics, including Keith Olbermann’s renewed presence on the network and a return to a more traditional “SportsCenter” for some hours of the day.
It’s ceratinly an interesting choice for ESPN, given Berman’s somewhat polarizing persona. It’s a nice invitation for Berman, though, whose retirement wasn’t entirely his idea, and who lost his wife to a car accident a few months after his role was reduced.
Whether or not Berman’s presence can help return ESPN’s Sunday NFL programming to its old status remains to be seen.