Bill Simmons’ highly-publicized but lightly-watched HBO show, Any Given Wednesday, has been abruptly cancelled by the network. Its last episode will be Wednesday November 9th.
Bill Simmons' "Any Given Wednesday" has been cancelled, effective after the Nov. 9 show.
— Neil Best (@sportswatch) November 4, 2016
Below the release from HBO:
“Any Given Wednesday, the weekly HBO talk show hosted by Bill Simmons, will finish its run on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and will not return to the network next season.
The decision was mutually agreed upon by HBO and Simmons, who joined the network in July of 2015. In the past year, Simmons has created the Bill Simmons Media Group, which is responsible for a wide range of linear and digital initiatives including the debut of The Ringer website, developing new content and assets, and re-launching the leading podcast franchise in the sports industry.
Bill Simmons: “One of the many reasons I joined HBO was to see if we could create a show built around smart conversations for sports fans and pop culture junkies. We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped. And that’s on me. But I love being a part of HBO’s family and look forward to innovating with them on other ambitious programming ideas over these next several years – both for the network and for digital. With that said, I want to thank the dedicated staff that worked so diligently with me behind the scenes to make this show every week – we hired so many great and talented people and I loved having them in my life. It’s difficult for me to imagine not working with them anymore.”
“HBO is committed to Bill Simmons, and we are excited to bring his unique vision to bear on an array of new programming initiatives under the HBO Sports banner in 2017,” said Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports. “Bill is an award-winning executive producer in the documentary arena, and we will work closely with him in developing new and engaging content for our subscribers.”
Simmons’ show was plagued by inconsistency from the start and never really found solid footing from an identity standpoint. Any Given Wednesday tried to find some way to transform Simmons’ online success into their late night television format and it just never worked. And especially when Any Given Wednesday is compared to HBO’s other late night heavy hitters like Bill Maher and John Oliver, it was painfully obvious how far short Simmons and his show were falling.
As the show was critically still trying to find its footing, its poor ratings were the final death knell. The October 26th episode had an abysmal 82,000 viewers, one of HBO’s lowest watched programs of the entire year and a 75% percent drop from the show’s early days.
The question now goes to where HBO and Simmons go from here. HBO is paying The Sports Guy a ton of money for AGW and other ventures and… we really haven’t seen much of anything else aside from After the Thrones. Simmons was contracted for 37 episodes but only made it through 17 for Any Given Wednesday. Can he become HBO’s Chris Hardwick? Does he start focusing on the documentary division and building up a competitor to 30 for 30? Whatever the case, it’s hard to imagine HBO trying to reinvent the wheel with another Simmons-centric studio show so it’ll likely be back to the drawing board to find where his sweet spot could be with the network.