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Simmons and HBO, A Perfect Match

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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

XFL Signs Exclusive Deal With ESPN

“Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.”

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All 43 games in the 2023 XFL season will air on Disney’s sports networks. The entire schedule will be seen on ABC, ESPN, and FX. Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia made the announcement at the 2022 Disney Upfront presentation.

This will be the third iteration of the XFL. The first attempt in 2001 ended after a single season. The 2020 revival was shut down due to Covid. Johnson and Garcia and their partners purchased the brand two years ago for $15 million.

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said in a press release. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.

“The XFL is going to be a league of passion, a league of pride, and a league of culture,” Johnson said at the event, promising that those three principles will drive every decision for the league.

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NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs

“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”

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More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.

The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.

At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.

With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.

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Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL

“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

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The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.

Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.

Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.

“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.

“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.

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