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Simmons and HBO, A Perfect Match

Jason Barrett

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Bill Simmons and HBO are a perfect match. As reported by the Washington Post a couple of days ago, Bill Simmons and HBO have come to an agreement. The multi-year deal is for exclusive rights for many of HBO’s platforms. This includes a television show, podcasts and features. Also, Simmons will continue to write. How HBO implements this remains to be seen, but a clone of Grantland, Simmons’ creation, may be in the works.

Bill Simmons, the self-proclaimed “Sports Guy” was not retained by ESPN as his contract is nearing its end. The mastermind behind much of Grantland’s success has not published anything on the website, nor appeared on any of the sports network’s television programming since May. It was widely speculated that both sides were making attempts at coming to terms with a contract extension, but those talks fizzled as Simmons’ star faded in the eyes of the ESPN brass.

Not too many people shed tears over the Bill Simmons and ESPN divorce. ESPN is the undisputed leader in sports broadcasting, while Simmons, a talented professional, was destined to land on his feet. In a matter of months, HBO came in and swooped Simmons up.

Bill Simmons and HBO is a perfect match.

If you have ever read a Bill Simmons-penned article on Grantland, the first thing that stands out is the edginess and emotion. One of his strongest traits is that a Bill Simmons piece is littered with passion. That passion carried over on ESPN television and some people cringed. His passion for the Boston Celtics is worth noting.

Over paper, virtual paper that is, he comes across as a fan. Fans do not mince words when heaping praise or expressing disappointment. To say that Bill Simmons is a person without a filter is an understatement. That, coupled with his desire for wanting more creative control on his projects, led to a debate within ESPN’s management regarding if he was worthy of that responsibility. No personality at ESPN yields that type of power. If Bill Simmons was granted that cache, it would have opened the door for others who would want similar control.

With HBO, he should have creative control over many of his projects. What made Bill Simmons interesting on ESPN is the fact that he was allowed to be himself for a long time.

HBO likes edgy.

Adding Bill Simmons to their stable is similar to when they pegged politically-based comedian Bill Maher to host Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher had been left dangling by ABC, a Disney owned company just like ESPN. Maher was the host to Politically Incorrect. He was deemed to be too controversial for the network. HBO on the other hand saw a gem in Maher. The rest is history.

For Bill Simmons, freedom will be a wonderful tool. HBO will give him the opportunity to speak his mind while not having to apologize for it. Freedom is a gift that is seldom realized today in the media industry. There are several reasons why his relationship with ESPN dissolved after 14 mostly successful years.

It was the journalistic freedom that led to the development of Grantland and the critically acclaimed documentary series 30 for 30. They are staples in the sports world and will continue to be for years to come. He now has the chance to strike gold twice. And this time it will be with a network, a pay for television network which will allow him to exude all of the passion he chooses to.

One of Simmons’ favorite targets, one of them being NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will no longer be safe from his wrath. It is hard not to forget the tirade regarding Commissioner Goodell and his handling of the Ray Rice case. During the since-deleted podcast, Simmons went off on Goodell. He was suspended by ESPN for his rant. There would be no such suspension at HBO.

The gloves are now off. He can proceed in being no holds barred. That is just what HBO likes. Bill Simmons and HBO are perfect for each other.

Credit to The Inquisitr who originally published this article

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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