Bill Simmons is back. The Sports Guy’s post-Grantland project, The Ringer, launched today. Although the site has had a social media presence for a few weeks (and Simmons’ now-eponymous podcast returned before that), action really got underway this morning, when Simmons publicly announced a number of the new website’s hires, and continued this afternoon, when he released the site’s first email newsletter.
The newsletter is The Ringer’s first substantive textual offering. It begins with a Simmons monologue on the name-selecting process for the new project, followed by a timely NCAA tournament article that leads with a nice picture of Tom Izzo and Denzel Valentine. (Bold prediction contained therein: “Sparty is going to be a tough out.”)
After that comes a Game of Thrones season preview, because this is the internet, after all, and the newsletter closes with a list of the three best-dressed people on Billions, which I just used Google to learn is another television show.
If The Ringer is reminding you of Grantland, that could be because of the substantial overlap in the two sites’ subject areas– basketball and premium-network television– and staff– including Katie Baker, Jason Concepcion (@netw3rk), and Brian Curtis. Tracking the similarities between The Ringer and Grantland will be both easy and less interesting than noting the differences, which are what could show us what, if anything, Simmons learned from his last venture.
We’ll check back in once things have been up and running for a little while. In the meantime, here’s hoping BS can bring the following Grantland alums back into the fold: Brian Phillips, Rembert Browne, Mark Titus, Louisa Thomas, Charles Pierce, Chuck Klosterman, and Norm Macdonald.
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One area in which The Ringer struggles is the ability to embed league-owned video content. My guess is that this is due to a combination of two factors, likely in unequal parts: 1) Medium, the web platform on which the site is built, has some technological embedding restrictions, and 2) the site is too small to afford (or too broad to decide to invest in?) commercial embedding rights.
For example, all of the baseball videos look like they’re embedded videos, but they’re actually photo stills doctored to look like embedded videos. When a reader clicks them, she’s taken away from the site to the MLB.com video site.
For NFL videos, they are attempting to use Youtube videos, but the NFL apparently does not allow it’s Youtube content to play, embedded, on another site.
Once again, the reader is taken away from The Ringer to a separate site in order to view video.
I have no doubt that Bill Simmons is glad to be separated from ESPN, but I suspect that, at least his writers, editors, and web designers/programmers miss the infrastructural benefits of working for a company that already has secured things like sports video rights.
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