ESPN and Chris Berman are in talks to bring the semi-retired broadcaster in for an expanded role during the NFL season, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports. The plan, as it’s understood right now, would be for Berman to work a quarter of the football year, including some SportsCenter hosting duties and occasional Sunday NFL Countdown content.
The move would be another nod in the direction of nostalgia play — a free idea floated by a mid-level sports blogger last year — previously employed in the decision to bring back Keith Olbermann. Berman accepted a lesser role in 2016 with John Skipper at the helm. It’s become clear that Norby Williamson has a different perspective on programming and it’s manifesting in a turn-back-the-clock approach.
Time will tell how successful the experiments will be. My guess would be a ratings burst at the beginning, which slowly returns to reality as people get more accostumed to seeing Berman back on their televisions.
Finally, it can’t be overstated just how much the tide has turned, from the outside, in regards to ESPN’s perception of SportsCenter. There was a time not so long ago when the prevailing wisdom, reflected by the company’s choices, was the solution to make the highlight show as small a part of the content as possible. Now it feels as though there’s been a 180-degree turn and SC is being looked at with new eyes and a reconsideration of its potential.
Who could have seen that coming?