Sports personality and Grantland founder Bill Simmons has found a new home. The popular analyst has inked a multi-year contract with HBO, which will put Simmons back in front of audiences on his own talk show in 2016.
The contract, which begins in October, will make HBO the exclusive home of all things Simmons. Apart from the talk show, which will feature guests from the world of sports, entertainment, and other genres, the premium network will utilize Simmons’ talents to create other sports-related ventures, similar to his work at ESPN.
Working from behind the camera, as well as in front of it, Simmons’ auxiliary projects are likely to include documentaries and features, podcasts, and other content created for HBO’s growing platforms, according to the AP. Simmons was instrumental in the creation of ESPN’s lauded 30 for 30 docs, according to the New York Times. Simmons also added his satirical voice to the pages of the sports/culture website, Grantland, as Editor-in-Chief, in addition to moonlighting as an NBA analyst, among other projects.
Nicknamed The Sports Guy for his versatile roles throughout the industry, Simmons’ highly-publicized rift with ESPN President, John Skipper, came to a head in May when it was announced that Skipper would not be renewing Simmons’ contract. A week later, Simmons became a free agent, so to speak.
The issues between the two parties stemmed from multiple incidents in which it seemed Simmons wouldn’t toe the party line at the Disney-owned network, including vocal criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in which Simmons called Goodell a liar following the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal.
It seems ESPN’s loss will be HBO’s gain, however, as Simmons’ style of rolling comedy and cultural references into a mix that includes solid sports analysis has been extremely popular with younger audiences, helping to make Grantland and his BS Report podcast two of the leading venues for sports commentary on the web. HBO had been courting Simmons for at least a month, leading up to today’s announcement.
“We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time,” said HBO’s Mike Lombardo in a written statement. “His intelligence, talent and insights are without precedent in the areas he covers.”
Simmons showed his excitement about finding a new home at the few-holds-barred network, saying “It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape.”