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.

Flashing back to 1991…Giants and 49ers, What’s Old is New

In January 1991 I was in 8th grade, we were about to liberate Kuwait and bomb Iraq, Seinfeld’s 2nd season had just started and we were a two weeks away from Whitney Houston blowing the doors off Tampa Stadium singing the “Star Spangled Banner” for Super Bowl XXV.

One of the top NFL games that season was the NFC Championship game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco.  The 49ers were the favorites to win, led by Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Jerry Rice.  The Giants had a great defense but a boring ball control offense.  In 1991, defense won championships and it was the Giants defense that gave them the upset victory, by knocking Joe Montana out of the game and causing a fumble as the 49ers were running out the clock.  The Giants won the game a few minutes later with a field goal.  The win in San Francisco propelled the Giants to the Super Bowl where they defeated the Buffalo Bills.

21 years later, we are right back to that NFC championship game.  The players are different but the stakes are the same.  No one will confuse Alex Smith with Joe Montana, but some might think the Giants defense is just as good as the 1991 model, and they are probably right.  For those wanting to take a trip down memory lane, here is a YouTube clip of the game highlights:

How the Social Media World Reacted to Super Bowl Ads

How the Social Media World Reacted to Super Bowl Ads [STATS].

We provided some insights into the aftermath of the Super Bowl ads.  We saw huge increase (3000%) in shares in posts mentioning Pepsi Max, but Groupon was much smaller.  While search may have indicated who the winner was going to be, clearly social can indicated who the advertising winners were.


The Super Bowl of Gambling…

As I sit here on Sunday morning, the clock is ticking toward kick off for tonight’s Super Bowl, and gambling sites online are melting under the traffic load they are seeing today.  The Super Bowl, which used to be just a game 45 years ago, has become a can’t miss event for advertisers and ridiculous half time shows.  In the last 10 years as we have quadrupled the number of people online, we no longer have to call our bookies, we just go to our browsers.

Each year the types of things you can bet on get funnier.  Many years ago you could wager on the coin flip, then a few years ago sports books added the color of the gatorade that would be dumped on the coach.  This year brings us the opportunity to bet on how long Christina Aguilera will sing the Star Spangled Banner and who the winning coach will thank first in his game winning speech.

So while most get settled in to watch the kickoff realize that someone has already won or loss money on the coin toss, how long Christina Aguilera held the note on the word “brave.”  Happy gambling day America, now how much do you want to bet I overeat tonight?

The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder

The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.

Even though this article was from back in November, since this is Super Bowl week, I am hoping my Steeler and Packer friends have some sympathy as here in Washington we deal with one of the most bizarre and confused sports owners and businessman of all time.  If Snyder ever teamed up with Isaiah Thomas, I wonder what would happen?

Hopefully the man with Napoleonic complex sells the team at some point.