HBO may have been one of the first logical landing spots for former ESPN writers/website chief/documentary producer Bill Simmons when it was revealed in May his contract would not be renewed, but it wasn’t official until Wednesday.
The premium cable network said the 45-year-old who is “one of the most influential figures in contemporary sports media” agreed to an “exclusive multi-year, multi-platform agreement” starting in October that includes a weekly series starting in 2016.
Simmons’ deal with ESPN expires in September, but he has not been involved in any of the network’s platforms since news came out that ESPN did not want him back.
“It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape,” Simmons said in a release. “From the moment I started talking to Michael (Lombardo, HBO president of programming) and Richard (Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO), it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.”
Key to this is Simmons having a production deal to produce content for the network and its digital platforms. He will also “be consulting” with HBO Sports and its division president Ken Hershman on “non-boxing-related programming” that include documentaries and shows.
Simmons, who was included in the L.A. Daily News’ Top 50 recent most powerful in L.A. Sports list, started at ESPN.com in 2001, and a year later was a columnist at ESPN’s magazine. He also wrote on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” from 2002-04 when he moved from Boston to L.A. He and ESPN launched Grantland.com in 2011.
== From our column about Simmons’ departure in May: “Whatever galaxy is left to accommodate Simmons, whose fame we’ve never completely understood and really aren’t that motivated to investigate despite others who begrudgedly give him props, we can’t wait to hear about from those independent bloggers who are now begging him to bless their site with his presence.”
== All Simmons had to do this morning was send out this tweet and it’s already been retweet 1.4K times:
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) July 22, 2015
== What doomed Simmons at ESPN? Author James Andrew Miller explains in Vanity Fair.
== What we found to be most appropriate from Twitter feeds today includes this:
I wish someone could explain to me baryon asymmetry and Bill Simmons.#Mysteries
— Dave Kindred (@DaveKindred) July 22, 2015