HBO ‘Real Sports’ ending after 29 years

HBO’sReal Sports with Bryant Gumbel” is preparing to air its final episode after 29 years on the air.

“Real Sports” launched in 1995 when Gumbel was still with NBC and will air its final episode Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. 

The show has offered up some prolific sports journalism in its three decades on the air and racked up 32 Sports Emmys and two Peabody Awards for its work.

It also attracted its share of controversy, including in response to comments made by Gumbel about Black participation in the Olympics, a perhaps-too-cozy relationship between the NFL commissioner and the head of its players union and a comment about slavery during coverage of an NBA player lockout. 

As to why it’s ending now, Gumbel is at the end of a contract term and there are hints that HBO’s new-ish owner Warner Bros. Discovery’s efforts to cut costs could have a role in the decision to wrap the program. 

Prior to “Real Sports,” Gumbel went to CBS, appearing on various programs including as co-anchor of “The Early Show” from 1999 to 2002. Prior to that, from 1982 to 1997, he was co-anchor of NBC’s “Today,” having first joined the network as part of its sports division in 1975. 

“Real Sports” is the basis of two other HBO sports shows, “On the Record with Bob Costas,” which ran from 2001 to 2004 and “Costas Now” from 2005 to 2009.

Once “Real Sports” goes off the air, ESPN’s “E:60” will be perhaps the most prominent sports newsmagazine to remain on the air. CBS previously had a sports edition of “60 Minutes” that aired from 2013 to 2017. The show returned briefly during the COVID-19 pandemic under the name “60 Minutes Sports: Timeless Stories,” which used repeats of previous reports. 


There is now word on what Gumbel’s plans on after the show ends.

Gumbel has a brother, Greg, who works for CBS Sports.