The decision to make liberal commentator Keith Olbermann the face of the obscure news channel Current TV may or may not pay off, but Al Gore’s struggling network desperately needed to make a splash if it hoped to survive, analysts said yesterday.
Olbermann is taking a leadership position and holding an equity stake at the network. Neither Current nor Olbermann disclosed financial terms of their contract, but Olbermann reportedly was unhappy with his $8 million annual salary before parting ways with MSNBC last month.
Fortune magazine yesterday compared the hiring to when Sirius XM signed Howard Stern to a $400 million contract in 2005. A financial analyst told Fortune that Stern’s presence attracted 1 to 2 million subscribers, basically making the hire a wash.
Current’s ratings are so low that it is not even measured by Nielsen.
“It’s a bold but necessary gamble for [Gore], who has struggled to lure more than 25,000 viewers to his five-year-old network on a nightly basis,” wrote Forbes’ Lacey Rose.