By now, sports fans know the story of Bill Simmons leaving ESPN and starting The Ringer before selling it to Spotify. But Simmons dropped some new info about the finances behind The Ringer in an episode of SmartLess this week, revealing that ad and sponsorship revenue from his podcast alone largely covered The Ringer’s expenses.
Simmons was asked why he felt comfortable departing ESPN and starting his own company. He explained there was untapped earnings potential behind podcasting and his hit show.
For that reason, despite interest from corporate investors, Simmons was patient before taking outside money.
“ESPN didn’t care about podcasts at all, and we were convinced we can probably pay for everything with the podcast revenue,” Simmons told hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. “And I never ended up taking money from investors because we kind of felt like we could pay for everything through my podcast, which is what happened.”
Just before Spotify purchased The Ringer in early 2020, Forbes estimated the income generated by The Bill Simmons Podcast was $7 million annually. Around the same time, Simmons claimed the company was profitable.
Considering many high-profile podcasts have come and gone (including Spotify), an entire company being profitable on the back of one show is remarkable. And so far, Simmons has been able to protect The Ringer from Spotify price cuts, indicating his division of the audio company remains more successful than others.
Still, betting his career on his podcast wasn’t an easy sell seven years ago.
“I remember explaining it to my wife, and she was like, ‘I trust you,'” Simmons explained. “But I could see this glimmer in her eye like, should I go on Raya now, or wait like six months?”