The Biggest Media Free Agent Of The Decade
It wasn’t hard to miss the announcement that ESPN will not renew the contract of Bill Simmons when it expires in September.
There’s already plenty of words written about where Simmons should head next from Fox Sports to Turner to Yahoo. Vice Media’s Co-Founder Shane Smith is openly appealing to Simmons to join his fast growing company.
Simmons offers the rare combination of hitting every media quadrant. His online writing generates huge traffic flow merging Sports and Pop Culture. He’s been a best-selling author. He is a television personality as host of Grantland Basketball Hour and creator and producer of ESPN’s 30 For 30 documentary series. He has a huge social media following with over 3.7 million Twitter followers that can be used to promote whomever his next employer will be.
Then there is a huge audio component to Simmons’ work that has not really been focused on in the speculation over his next move. And one that very few of his rumored suitors could be in place to support without bringing on a third party. Simmons’ B.S. Report is one of the few podcasts along with perhaps just Marc Maron’s WTF and Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist that true A-Listers will appear. His is the only podcast to net an interview with President Obama.
Not since Howard Stern left CBS for SiriusXM has there been a media free agent that has as much clout. With a long-running obsession for WFAN and Mike & The Mad Dog, we cannot rule out radio broadcasters as part of the conversation. Fox has its partnership with iHeartMedia in Fox Sports Radio to dangle. Would Simmons leave his Los Angeles home to return to the east coast to become Mike Francesa’s heir apparent for CBS? Could he follow his fellow former ESPN’er Dan Patrick in building an independent audio platform and teaming up with a syndicator as part of a multi-channel distribution system?
While audio is just a part of what Bill Simmons can offer to whomever he partners with or is hired by, with podcasting growing by the day and a known passion for radio that many do not share these days it would be wise for broadcasters to at least put in their due diligence to be part of the discussion.