Edgy TV host Olbermann to renew MSNBC deal

MSNBC is expected to announce Thursday that it has signed a new long-term contract with “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann, sources said.

MSNBC would not comment late Wednesday.

Olbermann, a former ESPN sportscaster, gained publicity last year for his feud with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly and his special commentaries against President Bush’s policies, particularly in regard to the response to Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq. “Countdown” recently has seen a strong uptick in ratings, helping lead MSNBC to the best competitive position in its history against second-place CNN.

Edgy TV host Olbermann to renew MSNBC deal 1

Details of Olbermann’s contract were not available. It also isn’t known whether it includes any other opportunities within the NBC Universal family.

Olbermann first gained fame in the early 1990s as one half of the famed “SportsCenter” team with Dan Patrick from 1992-97. Olbermann eventually left ESPN in 1997 in an acrimonious split that was only healed in recent years; he now regularly co-hosts “The Dan Patrick Show” on ESPN Radio with his former colleague.

Olbermann then moved around the cable dial, joining MSNBC for his own program called “The Big Show” before moving to Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports until 2001. He then worked at ABC Radio and CNN before rejoining MSNBC in 2003.