ESPN’s Grantland founder Bill Simmons joins HBO

In this May 6, 2014, file photo, Bill Simmons arrives at the world premiere of "Million Dollar Arm" at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles.

In this May 6, 2014, file photo, Bill Simmons arrives at the world premiere of “Million Dollar Arm” at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles.

(Chris Pizzello / Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Former ESPN commentator Bill Simmons has landed at HBO.

The premium cable network announced Wednesday that it has a multiyear deal with Simmons that includes a weekly series starting in 2016. He also will develop films and projects for HBO’s digital platforms.

Simmons is a bestselling author and founder of the popular ESPN sports and pop culture website Grantland. He also helped develop ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30" documentary series.

Dubbed as “The Sports Guy,” Simmons was a major star during his run at ESPN, which began in 2001. His irreverent style enabled him to develop a significant following among younger sports fans. He has more than 4 million followers on Twitter.


But the Disney-owned cable network chose not to renew his contract which was set to expire this year. He left the company in May.

Simmons was suspended last year by ESPN for harsh comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. The move had some observers wondering whether the channel no longer was tolerating on-air critics of its league partners. ESPN carries the NFL’s Monday Night Football package.

Under his new deal with HBO, Simmons will be involved in developing long-form and documentary programming.

“It’s no secret that HBO is the single-best place for creative people in the entire media landscape,” Simmons said in a statement.

Terms of the new HBO deal with Simmons were not disclosed. A TV executive familiar with Simmons’ ESPN deal said he had been earning $5 million annually with ESPN.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio