Has Bill Simmons Departure Hurt Grantland?


An article last week on Deadspin caught my eye about what ESPN is going to do with Grantland.com.  If you remember Grantland founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons was told his contract was not going to be renewed back on May 8th and effectively it was his last day at ESPN.

I’ve been reading Bill Simmons since he was writing for Digital Cities AOL back in 1999 and I followed him to Page 2 on ESPN to his penultimate move when he and ESPN created Grantland.  A cadre of writers came on board, some well known others who would become well known after writing on the site for a while.

So the question Deadspin asked was what will happen to the site, but I’ve been curious what’s happened to the site since Simmons was fired.  Here is what Alexa and Quantcast show:

Quantcast Data

Quantcast Data

Alexa Data

Alexa Data

Clearly traffic has dipped since Simmons stopped working on the site, but part of that might be seasonal.  The NFL season ends in early February, and as the weather warms people spend less time thinking about sports, but that doesn’t fit what Grantland likes to write about.  Bill Simmons is a huge NBA fan and writes about it extensively all the way through the playoffs which wrap up in June.  Then there is the pop culture part of the site which covers May sweeps and summer movie season.

When I tried to compare the social engagement of Grantland, two things stood out.

  1. Social engagement on the site dropped 51% in the first 6 months of 2015 as compared to the first 6 months of 2014.
  2. Since Simmons stopped working on Grantland on May 8th social activity is down 53%.



So does this spell the end of Grantland?  I hope not, there are terrific writers there and they’ve been a big contributor to the resurgence of podcasts, but as Deadspin notes if the writers depart when their contracts are up, they don’t have the same momentum heading into 2016 as they did heading into 2015.

The Importance of Twitter during Real-Time Events for Brands

Over the past 6 weeks I have led our data analysis of real-time events at Clearspring such as the Super Bowl, the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards.  We have been live tweeting the data behind the events using many different signals across our network.  One trend is becoming more apparent during these real-time events which is the importance of Twitter.

The reason for Twitter’s rise during these events can be attributed to a few factors:

  1. More people are watching these events with a phone or tablet next to them instead of a laptop.  Twitter’s integration into these platforms especially iOS is important to note.
  2. Twitter’s mobile apps are simple to use and the 140 character limit actually plays in their favor during these events.  Short updates, re-tweets and replies make it easy to “be social” without taking attention away from the TV screen.
  3. Twitter is where the celebrities are.  During these events whether they be award shows, political debates or sporting events, musicians, actors, writers and athletes are sharing their opinions with the world and it is the best way to follow along.

Here is one example showing the amount of social activity by service during and immediately after Adele’s Grammy performance.  Twitter activity is almost two times bigger than Facebook.

So how can brands take advantage of Twitter during real-time events?  Brands can take advantage of Twitter’s popularity by bidding on promoted hashtags, accounts and tweets related to the event that draw attention back to your brand.  The other obvious play is to leverage celebrities that will be tweeting about the event to mention your brand or use your promoted hashtag or tweet.

Marketing via Twitter and using Twitter for earned media is still nacent, but you can tip the court in your favor by taking advantage times when Twitter users are highly engaged.

The Power of AddThis Data

I wrote a blog post today on the AddThis blog about crunching data in preparation for the 2012 South Carolina primary this weekend.  I was curious to see which states showed the most interest in Mitt Romney.  I also was interested in seeing how political television ads were influential in increasing interest in neighboring states.  For example, the map below shows interest in Romney is strong in Massachusetts and Georgia because TV markets in both states overlapped with primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.  This is just the beginning of the insights we can provide.