Bill Simmons Launches Ringer Films To Focus on Documentaries

Bill Simmons

Handsome Bill Simmons is heading back to familiar territory. As part of what he calls “the next phase” of The Ringer, his year-and-a-half-old sports and pop culture website and podcast network, he will launch a new division focused on long and short-form nonscripted programming. Having co-founded the 30 for 30 franchise during his tenure at ESPN, Simmons says he’s been eager to return to the format, and intends to focus not only on sports but also on music and other pop culture subjects.

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HBO, which was an initial investor in The Ringer, will have a first pass on the company’s video content as part of its first-look deal. Simmons says he will begin a search for an executive to lead the department, aptly titled Ringer Films, in the new year; in the interim, he will co-run it with Ringer president Eric Weinberger.

 

The first project to bear the Ringer Films’ name will be the previously announced Andre the Giant doc, which will be released on HBO this spring. The doc, a co-production with HBO Sports and the WWE and directed by Jason Hehir, aired on Saturday night during the boxing match between Miguel Cotto and Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden.

 

Bill told THR, “We’ve been looking at this in phases. The first phase was about getting the website up and trying to hire the editorial staff and build the podcast network. The second phase, in 2017, was moving to Vox — which means we have a really good website now, and it looks good — and investing heavily in video and social. So, phase three, next year, will be about nonscripted long-form and short-form stuff. It’s part of my DNA, and I think it’s something people expect from me. And it’s always been part of the plan here. Andre is the first one. It’s coming out in April 2018, and it’s really good. And then we’ll be open for business.”

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: HBO
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