Keith Olbermann once famously said that he had "napalmed" the bridges between himself and ESPN. Proving, to the most extreme extent possible, that time heals all wounds ... the bridge has been rebuilt, if only with just hubcaps and gum this time.
The former (deep breath) ESPN, ESPN2 CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox, Fox Sports Net and Current TV anchorman will return to the place where he made his name, sort of. Olbermann will get to host his own nightly sports show, conveniently titled Olbermann, which will air Monday-Friday at 11 p.m. ET starting Aug. 26 on ESPN2. The show's debut times nearly perfectly with the debut of Fox Sports 1, which rolls out its rival weekday programming lineup on Aug. 19.
Olbermann will reportedly not have any political bent and is described in ESPN's press release as a "focus on the day's relevant sports topics through a mix of perspective and commentary, interviews, contributors, panel discussions and highlights." The program will also allow Olbermann to work as host of TBS' MLB playoff coverage, though it has not yet been revealed how the show will work around those duties.
"Keith is a one-of-a-kind personality, and these shows will be appointment viewing for that very reason," ESPN President John Skipper said. "Keith brings a blend of editorial sophistication and unpredictability -- you can never be sure what you'll get. Olbermann on ESPN2 gives viewers the quality late-night complement to ESPN's SportsCenter in the same way we've developed distinct show options across our networks the rest of the day."
Olbermann added: "Apart from the opportunity to try to create a nightly hour of sports television that no fan can afford to miss, I'm overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN. I've been gone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network. Our histories are indelibly intertwined and frankly I have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality of that story would be a completely positive one. I'm grateful to friends and bosses -- old and new -- who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I'm not going to waste it."
The show gives ESPN2 a stake in primetime, or at least primetime for sports viewing, for the first time in ages. Olbermann was a part of the first attempt to make that happen, with the failed SportsNight. The show will often be led into by live sports coverage, including on its debut episode, which will follow primetime coverage of U.S. Open tennis. It will compete against fellow sports chat shows SportsCenter and Fox Sports Live, in addition to popular cable talk shows The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Conan.