Bill Simmons Signs Deal to Move Sports Site to Vox Media – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Bill Simmons at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco in 2015.

Bill Simmons

is taking another step on his winding path through the annals of sports journalism.

The internet iconoclast has signed a deal to move his sports and culture website, the Ringer, off Medium and onto Vox Media’s platform, Vox executives have announced.

While Mr. Simmons will maintain ownership of the site he launched last summer, the Ringer will become part of the portfolio of brands Vox offers to marketers alongside its own properties like SB Nation, the Verge and Eater.

“We will contribute sales and cross-promotional services, but they will continue to have their own voice and independence,” said Vox Media’s chief executive,

Jim Bankoff.

“The Ringer fits into our portfolio really well, and for advertisers looking to reach sports fans, it will be a really nice addition.”

Mr. Bankoff said revenue from ad sales will be split between the two companies, but wouldn’t disclose the specifics of the arrangement.

The Ringer employs several dozen people and offers a mix of features on sports, film, television and technology as well as a slate of sports podcasts.

The Ringer had been one of the more high-profile sites to publish directly to Medium, a blogging platform created by Twitter co-founder

Ev Williams

in 2012 that promised a higher-quality alternative for publishers than typical web advertising.

But when Medium announced in January that it was discontinuing its advertising services, laying off a third of its staff and rethinking its business model, many publishers were caught off-guard.

The deal marks the first time Vox has opened its platform up to a third-party company. Mr. Bankoff said if all works well, it is possible that other similar deals may follow.

“We may do others, but we will be very selective,” he said. “We only want to work with the best and with sites that are consistent with our approach.”

The deal is the latest step in Mr. Simmons’s Zelig-like career that began with sports blogging in Boston, followed by a long run as a columnist at ESPN where he also served as editor in chief of the now-defunct Grantland site and helped create the channel’s successful documentary series “30 for 30.”

In 2015, ESPN opted not to renew Mr. Simmons’s contract following a series of clashes he had with top network executives. He joined HBO a few months later to develop a weekly sports talk show called “Any Given Wednesday,” which was canceled late last year after just four months on the air due to poor ratings.

HBO is a minority investor in the Bill Simmons Media Group, which operates the Ringer and network of podcasts focusing on sports, politics and pop culture.

Write to Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@wsj.com

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