Bill Simmons Reveals Name, Details of New Website
The ESPN expat will post all of his written materials on the online destination.
Bill Simmons is headed online with a new website, The Ringer, which will host written materials from the sports and media personality.
The Ringer will debut in late spring or early summer 2016 and before that will publish an email newsletter up to three times weekly, starting in March. The online property launch comes as Simmons gets set to roll out his upcoming program at HBO, which will include several Daily Show alums.
The name of Simmons' site leaked last month when his team submitted a request for the name "The Ringer" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. New hires for the website include Craig Gaines as copy chief and Bryan Curtis as editor-at-large. Earlier hires for The Ringer include Sean Fennessey as editor-in-chief, Chris Ryan as executive editor and Mallory Rubin as deputy editor.
The 46-year-old sportswriter and occasional lightning rod found himself on the market when ESPN abruptly opted not to renew his contract last year. The rupture with the sports network and its president John Skipper, a one-time Simmons mentor, sent the Simmons-founded ESPN vertical Grantland into turmoil. Numerous writers followed Simmons out the door and joined him at HBO. After stating publicly that executives were committed to Grantland without Simmons, ESPN on Oct. 30 announced the shuttering of the site. On Twitter, Simmons called the decision "simply appalling."
At HBO, Simmons has been promised free creative range. And certainly HBO's status as a premium network that does not have to maintain relationships with powerful sports leagues (like the NFL) ameliorates some of the inherent tensions that Simmons kept bumping up against at Disney-owned ESPN.
Simmons will launch his weekly HBO program this year, where it will run on HBO's linear network as well as HBO Now and HBO Go. The multiyear, multiplatform pact also includes a production deal that will have Simmons — who co-created ESPN's well-regarded 30 for 30 documentary franchise — producing content for the network and its digital platforms, delivering video, podcasts and features as he did at ESPN. Simmons also serves as a consultant for HBO Sports' non-boxing programming that included development of shows and documentary films for the network.