Bill Simmons - the sports guy with the magic touch. He practically reinvented sportswriting for the web at ESPN.com. He founded Grantland, a legendary (and now defunct) website. His podcast was a killer! So why was his HBO talk show "Any Given Wednesday" canceled after just four months? Read on to find out.
1. No buzz
The premiere of "Any Given Wednesday" got people talking, not because of anything Simmons said, but because many viewers speculated that guest Ben Affleck
was drunk when he went off on a tear about the New England Patriots and Deflategate. Unfortunately for Simmons, Affleck's spiel was pretty much the last time anyone discussed his show. "It never resonated with audiences," Simmons admitted in a statement.
2. The host
Simmons may be great online and on a podcast, but on TV? He's a bit ill-at-ease and stiff as a host. It didn't help that HBO decided to do the show essentially as a talk-radio broadcast, with a cheap set and virtually no music or graphics.
3. Low ratings
Well, duh. Bad numbers mean cancellation. But the ratings for "Wednesday" were especially atrocious. The premiere drew a respectable 260,000 total viewers. But by the Oct. 26 show with guest Larry Wilmore, the audience was down to 82,000 - an appalling 68% decline.
4. HBO's strategy shift
"Wednesday" was ordered up by the regime of former programming chief Michael Lombardo. But he was given the heave-ho earlier this year, and now new HBO programmer Casey Bloys (pictured) is eager to make his mark on the network. See ya, "Wednesday"!
5. "Wednesday" wasn't the point
Don't worry about Simmons. He has an overall deal with HBO, so he will be back in some other form on the network. And he still has podcasts and a new website, The Ringer. Maybe "Wednesday" was just a start. A false start.