NEW YORK — Don Ohlmeyer has resigned as producer of “Monday Night Football” after just one year back on the job.
“Climbing on 44 airplanes and checking into and out of 22 hotels just got to be too much for me,” said Ohlmeyer, 56, referring to what he calls “the grueling schedule” of shepherding the production of a full season of “MNF,” including exhibition games.
It was Ohlmeyer’s second stint on the gridcast, having worked on the show in the 1970s during the glory days of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford.
“Don achieved his main goal, which was to get more media attention for ‘Monday Night Football’ and get people standing around the water cooler every Tuesday talking about last night’s game,” said Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports and head of his own sports consulting firm.
ABC gave him free rein when it hired him on March 8, 2000. He said he’s convinced that Dan Fouts and Dennis Miller, the two announcers he put in the booth with Al Michaels, were part of the reason why “MNF” drew so much more coverage last season than in previous seasons.
“We revamped the production, focusing on how the game is taped,” Ohlmeyer said, mentioning the stepped-up use of crane shots and Steadicam devices. Ohlmeyer also replaced sideline reporter Lesley Visser with former NFL star Eric Dickerson and ESPN’s Melissa Stark.
Despite kicking off a week early last year, on Labor Day weekend, when the audience levels are lower than usual, and facing competition from two Monday-night Winter Olympics telecasts on NBC, “MNF” fell off by only 7% in households last season (from a 13.7 rating to a 12.7). The average rating declined for the sixth straight season — in 1994 it was 17.8 — even though 11 of the 17 Monday night games were decided by a touchdown or less. Significantly, “MNF” actually shot up by 7% in the key demographic of men 18-34, to a 9.5 rating from an 8.9.
ABC Sports has not yet settled on a successor to Ohlmeyer.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)