Bill Simmons, the longform-loving sports authority, announced this morning the imminent launch of The Ringer, his new sports-and-culture site. The move comes less than a year after ESPN dispatched Grantland founding editor Bill Simmons via public execution in the pages of the New York Times.
Simmons quickly closed a development deal with HBO following his May 2015 ouster and created the Bill Simmons Media Group, bringing on NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger as president. Simmons revealed the new site’s name via Twitter, adding a departing shot at ESPN, his home for some 14 sometimes contentious years:
SportsGrid broke the news of the site’s name last month (its skepticism about the trademarked name now appearing to have been unfounded). Today’s reveal signifies Simmons’ determination to keep the sprit of his National Magazine Award-nominated journal alive. Following his ouster, four top editors exited ESPN, which shut down Grantland in the fall after staggering through a few months. Simmons is bringing much of his crew onboard the new project, including editor-in-chief Sean Fennessey, editor-at-large Bryan Curtis and associate editor Danny Chau.
Simmons wasn’t returning calls to reporters seeking further comment on his announcement, but a spokesman for BSMG confirmed that The Ringer “will debut sometime this late spring or early summer.” Its website is up and running with a sign-in for a newsletter that will go out before the full site is unveiled.
In the course of its four-year run, Grantland developed a wide readership for both its exhaustive sports reporting and commentary and similarly thoughtful and provocative pop-culture commentary in its “Hollywood Prospectus” section. Critic Wesley Morris — who earned Grantland one of its three National Magazine Award nominations, decamped for the New York Times, installed as a critic-at-large.
Among Simmons’ new hires is Amanda Dobbins, a senior editor at Condé Nast’s Glamour magazine and former culturista at New York magazine’s “Vulture” site. She becomes deputy editor for culture.
The trademark filing, “Capital New York” reported, describes The Ringer name applying to “downloadable podcasts, webcasts and electronic publications in the fields of entertainment, sports, sports and social commentary, pop culture, movies, music, television, technology, electronics, celebrities, current events, news, politics, lifestyle, and topics of general interest.”
Later this year, as part of a multi-platform agreement with HBO, Simmons will anchor a weekly television show and produce other content for the premium cabler. Among the details released earlier were Simmons’ hiring of several former Daily Show staffers.