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The pay cable outfit announced Friday, on the eve of wall-to-wall election coverage, that it has canceled his young Any Given Wednesday talk show — though HBO will remain in business with the popular sports personality and continue to be minority investor in his Bill Simmons Media Group.
The last episode will air on Nov. 9.
As much as this might be a setback for Simmons, it does not end his relationship with HBO — where he quickly landed after being fired from ESPN. The 47-year-old still has two years left on a rich three-year deal with the network that has him earning between $7 million and $9 million annually. Per that deal, Simmons will continue to develop other projects. (Prognosticators may want to turn an eye to over-the-top platform HBO Now. That’s where much content is expected to come from Jon Stewart, under a similar deal.)
In the meantime, Simmons still has a thriving podcast network and editorial upstart The Ringer. Both are heirs to Grantland, his Disney-owned web presence that ESPN unceremoniously euthanized after his exit.
For HBO, it’s another decisive move on the part of new programming chief Casey Bloys. Any Given Wednesday was set up under the regime of Michael Lombardo. And, like canceling Vinyl before it, Bloys is not being shy about distancing his HBO from that of his predecessor. It also comes as the network has been enjoying big success with other weekly talkers. Bill Maher’s Real Time remains a force to be reckoned with 14 seasons in, hitting ratings highs thanks to the 2016 election. And John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight has been a massive hit, both critically and with viewers, recently scoring the Emmys‘ coveted outstanding variety talk series trophy.
“HBO is committed to Bill Simmons, and we are excited to bring his unique vision to bear on an array of new programming initiatives under the HBO Sports banner in 2017,” added HBO Sports executive vp Peter Nelson. “Bill is an award-winning executive producer in the documentary arena, and we will work closely with him in developing new and engaging content for our subscribers.”
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