Former ESPN star Bill Simmons has made a new deal with HBO that will give him a weekly talk show on the premium cable network. The agreement was described as being an exclusive multi-year, multiplatform pact.
Simmons, who gained fame on ESPN's website, launched Grantland for the sports giant, announced plans to leave ESPN in the spring. The departure was one of several well-known faces departing ESPN, which is reportedly in cost cutting mode as subscriber numbers decline, cutting into its hefty distribution revenue.
Others leaving ESPN include Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd.
HBO is already in the sports business with Bryant Gumbel's Real Sports and Hard Knocks, which looks at NFL training camps. The network also has a new series Ballers, which has upset the NFL by using football team logos.
HBO will be Simmons' exclusive television home, the network said. The agreement, which begins in October, provides for partnership on a variety of platforms between the network and Simmons.
Among the elements of the new deal will be a talk show set to premiere in 2016. HBO describes the show as being topical and spontaneous, featuring 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, according to the announcement. 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.
"We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time," said HBO programming president Michael 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," Simmons said. "From the moment I started talking to Michael and Richard [Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO], it was hard to imagine being anywhere else."
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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