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‘Sports Guy’ Bill Simmons to join HBO

Talk show, video podcasts in deal that starts in Oct.

Bill Simmons, who parted ways with ESPN in May, was a coveted hire.AP

NEW YORK — Bill Simmons, the popular sports and culture writer, is heading to HBO.

HBO said Wednesday it would be the exclusive television home for Simmons and he would get a talk show that will debut in 2016. His contract with HBO starts in October.

Additionally, Simmons will have a production deal with HBO and will do video podcasts, similar to what he did at ESPN. At the sports network, he helped create ESPN’s “30 for 30” series of sports documentaries.

ESPN ended its relationship with Simmons in May when it said it would not renew his contract. He has not appeared on ESPN since and left his editing job at the website Grantland, though ESPN had said he would be paid until his contract expired in September. He is the founding editor of Grantland.com.


In a statement announcing his decision to join HBO, Simmons said, “It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape.” He added that after talking with the network, “it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.”

Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president for programming, said in a statement: “We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time. His intelligence, talent, and insights are without precedent in the areas he covers. We could not be more thrilled for him to bring those talents to HBO and to become a signature voice at the network, spanning the sports and pop culture landscapes.”

It is unclear whether Simmons’ new deal will leave him an outlet for the kind of written sports journalism that brought him to prominence and led ESPN to build Grantland around him.

Simmons, an unabashed fan of Boston teams who had intertwined sports, humor, and pop culture as an ESPN columnist, grew up in Marlborough and Brookline and graduated from Holy Cross for his undergraduate degree and Boston University for his graduate degree. He was dubbed the “Boston Sports Guy.’’


Simmons seemed to have been blindsided by the timing of ESPN’s decision to end their relationship in May. ESPN’s president, John Skipper, informed Simmons’ agent of his decision but did not speak to Simmons personally before the news became public.

It was not a shock that Simmons and ESPN would part ways; he was suspended by the network in 2014 and had openly questioned his place at the company. But his profile as one of the most influential sportswriters in the country made him a coveted hire for potential suitors from both legacy media companies and digital outlets.