Bill Simmons, the former Boston Sports Guy, longtime ESPN multimedia impresario, and accomplished Roger Goodell antagonist, announced July 22 he is joining HBO on multi-year deal that will include a weekly television series and projects and films on its digital platforms.
The HBO deal was an unsurprising soft landing for the coveted Simmons, whose decade-and-a-half run at ESPN ended abruptly in May when he was informed via ESPN president John Skipper’s comments to the New York Times that his contract would be allowed to expire. Simmons had crossed ESPN management, which has a $15.2 billion rights deal with the NFL to broadcast games, with his pointed criticism of Goodell, the league commissioner.
But some mystery has remained about what else Simmons, who founded and wrote for the Grantland website and hosted the popular B.S. Report podcast among other achievements, may do and where he may do it.
It still has not been revealed where his writing will be found or whether he will launch another Grantland-style site. But Simmons has dropped some details on Twitter regarding the podcast, and an industry source with knowledge of his plans revealed more information Thursday to this reporter on what’s to come.
The podcast will be called The Bill Simmons Podcast rather than the B.S. Report. Three podcasts per week will be produced in the first six months. It will be found in the usual places initially — iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and so on — and a specific web page will eventually be created as a landing spot.
The content will be familiar to his regular listers, with the Guess The Lines podcast with Cousin Sal available on Mondays. There will be an NFL picks-focused podcast on Fridays with Simmons’s friend Joe House, a familiar guest on the ESPN version of the podcast. Media members and celebrity guests will appear on other podcasts.
A lingering question regarding the podcast is whether ESPN will allow Grantland talent such as NBA writer Zach Lowe to appear as a guest. An ESPN spokeman noted that ESPN cooperates with many non-ESPN shows in allowing guests to appear, but said the network would take each request from Simmons “on a case-by-case basis as we normally do.”
Here’s hoping ESPN permits it. It already looks petty in the way it handled Simmons’s dismissal. It would seem just as small to refuse permission, especially since so many Grantlanders first came to ESPN specifically because of Simmons.