How Bob Costas nearly left NBC with David Letterman: ‘Tempting’

Bob Costas’s legendary run at NBC nearly ended much sooner.

Costas was the guest on this week’s “Marchand and Ourand” sports media podcast, a co-production between The Post and Sports Business Journal, and revealed that he came close to departing the peacock for CBS alongside David Letterman.

When David Letterman was passed over for “The Tonight Show” at NBC in favor of Jay Leno in 1993, his deal with CBS called for his Worldwide Pants production company to control the hour after his show. Costas was a frequent guest of Letterman’s and the two had a good rapport.

“He offered me that hour after his, which eventually went to Tom Snyder when I declined,” Costas said. “And to sweeten the pot, CBS offered me a correspondence spot on ’60 Minutes.’”

Costas said CBS’ offer was “very, very tempting,” but that NBC had a “treasure trove” of live sports rights (NBC had the NBA Finals at the time, in addition to NFL and Olympics rights which they still have today), and his relationship with former NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol. Furthermore, he had two young kids to consider.

It’s a fascinating what-if. Had Costas exited for CBS, it would have set off a game of dominoes that it’s not an exaggeration to say would have shifted the entire sports media landscape over the past 28 years.

Costas wound up staying at NBC until 2019, culminating a tenure of about 40 years. He currently hosts a show on HBO, appears on MLB Network, and this past October was the NLCS studio host on TBS.

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