Bill Simmons to HBO
By: Connor Lenahan
Bill Simmons had his tenure with ESPN end abruptly in early May, seemingly out of nowhere. This wasn’t exactly the most shocking news – the writing was seemingly on the wall that Simmons was going to leave the World Wide Leader at some point. The unexpected part was ESPN dropping Simmons like a sack of potatoes, leaving him to find out on Twitter.
The day this happened I wrote about it on Unbreakable. I casually mentioned in said article that I wanted Simmons to end up heading to HBO over any other suitor – Fox Sports 1, Turner Sports, Deadspin, etc. – because it would be the most intriguing from a career standpoint by a country mile.
Well, today may as well be Christmas because Bill is heading to HBO after all. News came this morning that Simmons would be getting a multi-year deal, complete with his own weekly talk show in 2016, video podcasts, and a large say in all HBO Sports programming. This is huge – no messing around huge.
Simmons is arguably, but not really, the biggest name in sports media today. Giving him a TV show is going to be potentially amazing – like I had requested a few months ago, a Last Week Tonight With John Oliver like program would be incredible. Keeping the podcast was absolutely necessary as this was one of Simmons most attractive draws. The HBO Sports and Documentary role is straight up amazing. Simmons was the man behind 30 for 30, and now he may have an even better outlet to make stuff. It’s impossible to not be excited for what this may bring.
The remaining questions are two pronged. Simmons deal, as it appears now, doesn’t seem to have much with regards to writing – the reason why Bill got popular in the first place. It seems unlikely that he wouldn’t have some outlet for writing set up, but as of now that is, apparently, the case. This is likely the next development in said deal. Second would be the often rumored staff exodus from Grantland. Without Simmons at the helm word has been thrown around that many of the staffers that were left in shock at their beloved boss’s firing will jump ship. Some may look elsewhere, like Wesley Morris who is rumored to be heading for the New York Times, or may look for Simmons once again. Come the fall, this could get frantic.
Regardless, even with this primary announcement the landscape has shifted significantly. Simmons and HBO are a fantastic fit. Now it’s time to watch for what they do together.