Looking to put a recognizable news face on its growing news network, Current TV has landed a big name -- former MSNBC mainstay Keith Olbermann.
Olbermann, who ended a turbulent eight-year reign at MSNBC in January as the host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," will try to do for Current TV what he did for the NBC news cable network -- give the channel an immediate brand name as its main news anchor.
At Current TV, which was founded by former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt in 2005, Olbermann will not only executive produce and host a new nightly prime-time news and commentary show, but will serve as the company's chief news officer.
He will also have an equity stake in Current Media, the parent company of Current TV.
Current TV has been a different kind of news/public affairs cable channel -- getting much of its content from independent-minded filmmakers/reporters and consumer-generated video reports. Much of its programming does not have network-like talking head news anchors.
"Keith Olbermann is a gifted thinker, an amazing talent and a powerful communicator," stated Al Gore, chairman and co-founder of Current Media. He said having him tap Current as his new home is "exciting and very much in line with the core vision we founded this network on."
Current TV has a smaller footprint than MSNBC -- 60 million U.S. homes from satellite and cable subscribers -- to the NBC's cable channel's 85 million U.S. subscribers. Current TV has some 15 million additional worldwide subscribers.
A lightning rod of controversy in almost every television job he has held, Olbermann gained his big profile -- along with his on-air partner Dan Patrick -- with the growing ESPN TV franchise "SportsCenter," where he worked from 1992 to 1997. En route to MSNBC, he also worked at Fox Sports and at CNN, in various sports and news positions.
Then in 2003, he joined MSNBC, hosting an 8 p.m. news show before it evolved into "Countdown." In 2006, he joined NBC's "Football Night In America," partnering again with Dan Patrick.
Analysts feel that Current TV's ratings will receive a likely boom. The network is not included in Nielsen's current regular weekly or monthly ratings of cable networks.