Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

A Media Non-Move: ESPN.com Star Bill Simmons Stays Put

Here’s a variation on the “old media star bails for new media outlet” story–a new media big shot staying put at the place that made him famous.

ESPN.com is hanging on to star columnist Bill Simmons, whose contract was set to expire this year. Disney’s sports site has yet to announce the deal, but sources tell me it was finalized more than a month ago–but not as far back as May 15, when Deadspin reported that a deal was essentially done.

How’s that for precision?

In that same vein, you can hear Simmons acknowledge the new deal, tacitly, in his pal Adam Carolla’s podcast today. During the show, taped yesterday, Carolla tells Simmons that “I know you signed a new contract with ESPN,” and then the two go on to talk about future podcast plans, including the potential for video podcasts (this kicks in around the 17:30 mark, if you’ve got the time).

Simmons more or less grew up on the Web, and while Disney’s (DIS) sports unit gives him an opportunity to do things off the Internet, he’s best known for his Sports Guy columns and podcasts on ESPN’s very big site.

Deadspin says Simmons is now working on a “top secret” project for ESPN; rival sports gossip blog The Big Lead says he’ll be building a new standalone site under the ESPN.com umbrella.

No word on length of the new deal, or its value, though I’m hoping it’s for a boatload of money.

That’s what Simmons’s colleague Rick Reilly got when he came aboard from Time Warner’s (TWX) Sports Illustrated back in 2007–a 5-year, $17 million deal, I’m told–and even though Reilly’s deal was done before the economy tanked, it’d be nice to think a Web wonder can command the same kind of cash in 2010.

Even something in the same ballpark would be nice. Right?

ESPN declined to comment; I’m waiting to hear back from Simmons.

[Image credit: Steven Barry via ESPN Books]


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus