It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since ESPN and Bill Simmons launched Grantland. Now, Sports Illustrated looks to play copycat by giving its most popular writer his own, uniquely-branded offshoot site, according to Deadspin. The in-house working title, according to that report, is "Kinglandia," which of course sounds ridiculous and awesome at the same time.
This makes sense because Peter King has such a large following (his Monday Morning Quarterback column apparently gets about 2 million readers per week), and because the development coincides with the start of a new contract for the 55-year-old. SI has also launced several new initiatives since CNN dropped them for Bleacher Report, including a new Swimsuit blog and the expansion of Extra Mustard.
King is in his 24th year at SI and has the numbers to get it done, but it's also an odd project because, unlike Simmons, he's not a jack of all trades. He's football and only football. He does like to branch out into other realms in his columns, which had us wondering if they'll do a lot of non-sporty stuff at the new site (just like at Grantland), but Deadspin says it'll be strictly football.
Grantland's big advantage is Simmons has got that pop culture cred, if you will. I think Simmons has more of a special cult following, and his audience is almost definitely younger. Grantland feels like a cool spot featuring unique content from very talented people. Will King and his old-school peers like Greg Bedard be able to establish the same feel? Probably not, and maybe that's not what they're going for anyway, but I think that their ceiling could be lower than Grantland's as a result.
UPDATE: King has confirmed to us that a new site is indeed in the works but that "it's pretty early in the formative stages."