MSNBC has asked Keith Olbermann to stay on as the host of “Countdown” for at least four more years. The left-leaning broadcaster is the network’s golden boy, with a ratings jump of 85 percent over the last year, thanks to his unique synthesis of Edward R. Murrow-style commentary and a wicked sense of humor.
As part of the deal, Olbermann will contribute occasional essays and prime-time specials to NBC proper.
Much to Bill O’Reilly’s annoyance, Keith Olbermann will be a two-term news host on MSNBC. At least. NBC News announced Thursday that Olbermann had agreed to four more years at the MSNBC prime-time show “Countdown.” He began the show in 2003, and his contract was due to expire in March.
Besides feuding with Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly, Olbermann has become a liberal hero. He has seen his ratings increase since launching a series of anti-President Bush commentaries late last summer.
Olbermann’s viewership in January was up 85 percent over January 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research. He’s still in O’Reilly’s shadow: the Fox show has averaged 2.4 million viewers so far this year while Olbermann, in the same time slot, has averaged 672,000.
“Countdown” has “put MSNBC back on the map,” said NBC News President Steve Capus. “It is as creative a broadcast as there is going today.”
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