ESPN veteran and Grantland founder Bill Simmons has signed a multi-year multi-platform deal with HBO that includes a new weekly series debuting in 2016, it was announced Wednesday by Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming.
“We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time,” said Lombardo. “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’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape,” added Simmons. “From the moment I started talking to Michael and Richard [Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO], it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.”
Simmons is a gifted sportswriter and pop culture columnist and HBO will serve as his exclusive television home. He’s expected to bring his signature wit to the pay cable network starting in October, when the overall agreement begins.
The deal provides for a comprehensive partnership on a variety of platforms between the network and Simmons. Among the elements is a talk show set to premiere in 2016 that will air on the main HBO service, as well as HBO’s digital platforms HBO GO and HBO NOW. Topical and spontaneous, the show will feature stories and guests from across the sports and cultural landscapes.
Simmons will also have a production deal to produce content and assets for the network and its digital platforms, delivering video podcasts and features. In addition, Simmons will be consulting with HBO Sports, working closely with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman on non-boxing-related programming, including the development of shows and documentary films for the network.
Simmons has served as a sports columnist, TV host and analyst, two-time New York Times bestselling author (“Now I Can Die in Peace: How the Sports Guy Found Salvation Thanks to the World Champion (Twice!) Boston Red Sox” and “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy,” which was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list), Emmy Award-winning documentary film executive and podcaster. He was the founding editor of the popular Grantland.com website, which launched four years ago and was recently nominated for three National Magazine Awards, and wrote the groundbreaking “Sports Guy” column for the past 14 years for ESPN and then Grantland.
The Massachusetts native also generated the concept for the network’s acclaimed “30 for 30” documentary series, becoming one of its Emmy-winning executive producers, in addition to ushering in the network’s presence in podcasting with his highly successful podcast “The B.S. Report,” which debuted in 2007 and featured such guests as President Barack Obama, Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock and Lena Dunham, to name a few. It was the #1 sports podcast on iTunes last year with more than four million downloads per month.
Simmons began writing for ESPN.com in 2001, and starting in 2002, was the lead columnist for ESPN The Magazine for seven years. He also served as a writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC from 2002 to 2004.