ESPN has made (at least) two major missteps this calendar year. First, they pushed the DeflateGate nonsense without any proof. Second, they decided to cut ties with Bill Simmons.
Simmons is a Boston boy living in Los Angeles, and he's responsible for three of the most transcendent venues of sports discussion. He's helped construct the 30 for 30 series, which takes an in depth documentary-style look at important sports events. He's pushed the use of podcasts, essentially a form of on-demand radio, to promote discussions and topics at the listener's choosing. He's also established Grantland, one of the more entertaining outlets for the intersection of sports and pop culture.
And ESPN decided to let him go because, hey, someone's gotta pay Skip Bayless.
In order for Simmons to flourish, he needs an organizational structure that gives him free reign and plenty of funding. He needs to be able to work on his three main platforms- writing, audio, video- and he would probably enjoy working with a staff of valued contributors. He's been linked to the fledgling Fox Sports platform, as well as Bleacher Report. According to The Hollywood Reporter, another outlet has thrown their hat in the ring, and it might be perfect (emphasis added).
[Los Angeles-based Programming Chief Michael Lombardo] won't rule out other talk shows, too, particularly if the right personality comes along. Though he's tight-lipped about names on his wish list, he acknowledges the soon-to-be available Jon Stewart would hold appeal. "Trust me," he says, "I've already had a very polite conversation." Considerably more likely is [Bill Simmons], whom the network is said to have made a big play for after his unceremonious booting from the more corporate ESPN. Such a move would be straight out of the HBO playbook, which famously provided a creative reprieve for former ABC flameout Bill Maher many years earlier. Though Simmons is said to have several suitors, insiders say conversations at HBO have focused on a TV show — something Simmons is believed to want — along with heavy digital extensions that make the prolific personality tailor-made for the HBO Now era.
HBO would give Simmons independence, and if they wanted to push a greater roster of On Demand content, Simmons' podcast network would be an ideal launch point.
Simmons will always be connected to Boston as his roots, and he'll always be a Patriots fan in whatever he does. Hopefully he lands somewhere his voice can be heard.