When Bill Simmons’ new TV show “Any Given Wednesday” debuted on HBO in June, it was the culmination of somewhat of a bidding war for the services of the former ESPN giant.
Four months later, the show is performing so poorly that some are already speculating where Simmons could wind up next — on the rebound, if HBO decides to dump him.
The most recent episode Wednesday drew just 82,000 live viewers — the poorest showing of any of the 16 episodes since its June 22 launch.
As noted by The Big Lead, the show’s 9 p.m. (Central) time slot put it in direct competition with the World Series and NBA games this past week, meaning much of Simmons’ potential core audience was likely watching something else. And as noted during the initial run of mediocre ratings, the show has done better in non-live platforms like HBO Now.
Still, both pieces note the lack of viral content on the show. And in the Big Lead item, the discussion quickly pivots from talk of an underperforming show to speculation as to whether HBO would consider moving on from Simmons in spite of a reportedly hefty investment in him — and where Simmons would go if that happened.
I don’t have HBO. I also have never once considered searching for clips of Simmons’ show. Perhaps my habits are reflective of Simmons’ five million-plus Twitter followers (though I confess, I also unfollowed Bill on that platform a while ago, probably because of one too many Boston sports rants).
Still, while 82,000 viewers is far more than anyone who has ever watched a TV show I was on (in its heyday, the critically acclaimed “Purple Funk” cable access show brought in about 200 viewers a week), it’s a little startling to think that barely 1 percent of his Twitter followers watched his show live last week.
Maybe the show will hit its stride with some tinkering and strong lead-ins (an episode in early October, right after “Deadpool,” had 267,000 live viewers).
If not, as TBL writes: “Simmons can blame the struggles of ESPN NBA Countdown back in 2014 on the show’s producers. Perhaps ESPN nixed the ‘Grantland Basketball Hour’ before it had a chance to flower. But, Simmons was given autonomy and control for ‘Any Given Wednesday.’ Maybe HBO was not that great of a fit, but this failure will stick to him.“