Visions Of Grantland: Bill Simmons’ Lost Opportunity To Do Something New

  • Dave Levy

At launch time a few weeks ago, Dan Shanoff penned this piece over at Quickish. He’s absolutely right on many points, especially that Grantland will be a huge success. This sticks out to me:

*Mostly, what I appreciate is that Simmons, along with his crew and his bosses, is trying to create something new.

Whether you have a budget of millions or are bootstrapping; whether you have a huge distribution firehose or have to scrap for every unique visitor; whether sales revenue comes with turning on the lights or from the uphill battle of getting marketers’ attention…

I agree with just about everything, but there is nothing here that is new. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a missed opportunity.

We’re going to read Grantland, because every sports fan (and blogger) who whines about the Worldwide Leader still watches Sportscenter. ESPN has the best access in the world, and while we deal with the explosion of talking heads that scream at us, there is always that one story or breaking lead (before it gets sufficiently buried into the ground) that makes it worth following. They get the popular leagues in every walk of sport, and as long as they have that, we’ll keep tuning in.

Grantland will be that, because the access, marketing, exposure and brand of ESPN now comes with the ability to throw the F-bomb around in a footnote. Critique it all we want, if Simmons ever called and said, “Hey, want to write?”, we know we would. No one would be counting the number of tweets our posts got, the number of pageviews or comments. Someone, somewhere, will track the number of RSS subscribers, but it won’t matter in the long run.

People will read it. Lots of people will read it. Important people, too.

But I’m guessing they would have read anything else you would have done, too.

Dave Levy is a contributor at Mediaite and SportsGrid and has never written a book. Tweet him @LevyDR and he’ll respond.