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October 10, 2015

ESPN Gives Chris Berman a Contract Extension

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 19th 2010 10:07PM
chris_berman_espn_2009Chris Berman is a fixture at ESPN. He's like the Jay Leno of ESPN, and as such, Berman's just gotten an extension to remain with ESPN for ... forever. Or so it seems. Berman's deal has been termed multi-year. Considering that he's going to be 55 on his birthday -- May 10 -- and he claims that he doesn't want to be broadcasting in his 60s, that means he's probably going to be doing the Swami for at least five more years.

Berman has been called the face of ESPN, and that's probably true. He's been there since 1979, just one month after the sports cable giant began as a fledgling idea that many assumed would never make it. An all-sports network? Are you mad? Seems hard to believe that now, but 31 years ago it was a radical notion and Chris Berman was a wannabe sportscaster in Hartford, Connecticut, who took a chance with the cable start up. It paid off big time when ESPN became the worldwide leader in sports broadcasting.

ESPN President George Bodenheimer is the guy who signed Berman to this extension, and far be it from me to second guess a TV executive, but ... Berman is played out. His shtick, the catch phrases, the exaggerated calls, the football prognostication, it's all tired. It's one thing for a network to show allegiance to talent and keep them part of the fold. It's another thing entirely when they're in a rut.

Sure, on one hand, Berman has been there forever and some fans expect to see him there, especially during football season. But as someone who has followed this guy's career since the start, Berman has worn out his welcome with me. Kind of like Jay Leno. Berman's never freshened the material.

But ESPN loves him. Bodenheimer said in a statement, "Chris has contributed so much to our company's success in reaching sports fans for more than three decades, and we are thrilled that one of the most important figures in our history will remain a vital part of ESPN's future."

Vital? That's questionable. This week, for instance, the NFL Draft will be the prime focus of ESPN. Round one of the draft is actually in primetime this year, Thursday night, starting at 7:30 PM. The man anchoring the draft will be ... that's right, Chris Berman. Familiar, you bet? But can we expect anything fresh from the lips of Boomer? Anything other than what we can anticipate? Doubtful.

And yet, let's not be a total buzz kill. Boomer deserves a pat on the back to longevity and fidelity. He's still a Buffalo Bill fan, so you know he's a loyal guy. ESPN has simply matched that loyalty with a guarantee that he'll probably end his career as a company man.

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Berman > Leno

April 20 2010 at 8:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jim's comment

P.S. The comparison is insulting.

April 20 2010 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree.

April 20 2010 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To echo GL: Why? So we can hear and he could go all the way and baaaack baaaack back for a few more years?

April 20 2010 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Berman is just another example of how the network fails to realize that fans watch the network despite the hacks they have working in front of the camera.

Berman is a tired, lame personality.

April 19 2010 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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