ESPN announced Friday afternoon that it is "suspending" its sports and culture site Grantland after several high-profile departures. "Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland," the statement read. "After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise."
The site came to prominence under the direction of commentator Bill Simmons, who left his position as editor-in-chief this summer and landed at HBO. Grantland was always more of a playground for Simmons rather than a straightforward business venture, and his departure in May raised questions about the future of the site.
“Grantland’s at a crucial point now where we’re doing the site that we have now really, really well,” Simmons himself said in March. “So now the question is, what does that mean to ESPN? I don’t know. I don’t know that it’s a me decision -- it’s what does ESPN want from this site?
“At some point we’ve got to either start growing, or we have to figure out what’s going to happen,” he said.
Simmons' new, exclusive deal with HBO began this month. His contract sets out plans for a talk show focusing on sports and culture, set to premiere in 2016, as well as podcasts and documentaries for HBO, as well as for other platforms like HBO GO.
ESPN could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
"Grantland distinguished itself with quality writing, smart ideas, original thinking and fun. We are grateful to those who made it so," the statement went on. "Bill Simmons was passionately committed to the site and proved to be an outstanding editor with a real eye for talent. "
"Despite this change, the legacy of smart long-form sports story-telling and innovative short form video content will continue, finding a home on many of our other ESPN platforms," it added.