Keith Olbermann's new Current event
It's the final countdown to Keith Olbermann's new show.
Olbermann, the former MSNBC host who made his name lambasting from the left, is set to take center stage on Al Gore's Current TV cable network tonight at the 8 p.m. slot with "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."
The move is a risky one, experts said.
"This could be a one-way ticket to obscurity," said communications expert TJ Walker. "It's going to be a long, hard slog to the point where he can have any audience."
Media image consultant Michael Sands agreed, saying, "Not enough people have heard of Current TV."
Olbermann, 52, was suspended from MSNBC in November 2010 for donating to Democratic campaign coffers. After a short return, he abruptly announced on a January installment of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" that, after an eight-year run, that night's episode would his last. MSNBC ended its contract with Olbermann for reasons that are still unclear.
Since then, the firebrand famous for warring with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly has taken his message to Twitter and his "not-for-profit blog," FOKNews-Channel.com.
Olbermann's Current TV endeavor will put him back on the airwaves, but his new home is nowhere near the cable powerhouse that MSNBC is, experts pointed out.
"Current TV is so small and obscure that they don't even show up in ratings," Walker said. "He can go there and do this whole show, but if nobody watches, how's that any different than staying home and putting a YouTube camera on?"
Multimedia exposure could make or break Olbermann's career, political consultant Basil Smikle added. "The network should find opportunities to get him out through the Web, through YouTube, through social media."
And Current is doing just that. Three clips from the show will be posted nightly at current.com/countdown, and clips will be shown on YouTube, Hulu, Fancase and Metacafe.
On TV: "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" debuts on Current TV Monday at 8 p.m.
Big names for Keith
l Current TV said it has slated big names such as Ken Burns, Michael Moore and Richard Lewis to be regular contributors to "Countdown."
Big names' big career moves: Stars who've had to make Olbermann-like adjustments and how they've fared
From: The outrageously popular talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on network TV
To: Her namesake cable network, OWN, or Oprah Winfrey Network
Grade: B- Ratings are abysmal for OWN, but Winfrey isn't one to give up. She's announced six new shows and is exploring distribution to overseas audiences.
From: Her home-improvement daytime show "The Martha Stewart Show" on network TV
To: "The Martha Stewart Show" on cable's Hallmark Channel last September
Grade: B Ratings are declining, but Stewart gets more exposure on cable, and the channel is adding powerhouses such as Emeril Lagasse to next season's lineup.
From: The "Glenn Beck" TV news-commentary program and other spots on Fox News
To: His new two-hour talk show, "Glenn Beck," airing daily at 5 p.m. on his subscription-based Internet TV station GBTV, starting Sept. 12.
Grade: A He still has a hit syndicated radio show and, now, his own Internet network.
From: "The Howard Stern Show," his raunchy radio show on New York's WXRK
To: "The Howard Stern Show," an even raunchier radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio since 2004
Grade: B+ Stern brought more customers to satellite radio, where he revels in having more leeway to speak his mind, said political consultant Basil Smikle.
From: A high-profile gig, "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," on network TV
To: "Conan," a late-night talk show on TBS, last November
Grade: B+ Considering the drama at NBC and the manner in which Jay Leno reclaimed "The Tonight Show" from O'Brien, TBS seems like a good fit for Conan.
Polarizing talker Keith Olbermann is back with a new show. Are you gonna watch it?