Apple tried to score ESPN SportsGuy for exclusive podcast


Bill Simmons nearly signed with Apple.
Bill Simmons nearly signed with Apple.
Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE

Apple is looking to create its own original content, and according to a new report, that almost included signing former ESPN ‘Sports Guy’ Bill Simmons to provide an exclusive podcast for Apple users.

ESPN abrupty announced that they would not be renewing Simmons’ contract earlier this year, which led Apple media boss Eddy Cue to gauge the ESPN star’s interest in creating an exclusive audio podcast deal, before he decided to sign on a multi-platform deal with HBO.

Recode reports that Apple was interested in signing Simmons to its original content creation division to create an exclusive audio podcast for the company. Simmons’ podcast ‘The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons’ was one of the most popular podcast on iTunes and paved the way for many other podcasts to show that the media format could indeed be profitable.

“Apple media boss Eddy Cue discussed the idea a couple of times with Simmons this summer, say people familiar with the talks, who say that they were preliminary at best,” reports Recode.

Apple’s interest in creating original content has intensified lately as the company also made a bid to sign the cast of Top Gear after they were dismissed by BBC. Not everyone who has talked to Apple about creating original content though thinks the company will actually pull the trigger on making its own movies and TV shows.

“They’re kicking tires,” said one studio executive speaking to Recode, who predicts that nothing will come of it. This isn’t the first time Apple has been rumored to be interested in creating its own content.

Simmons eventually signed a deal with HBO that will allow the popular sports commentator to create his own weekly sports commentary show on HBO. The deal also allows him to create a new podcast that will reportedly start airing in October.

Rumors have also floated around that Apple was interested in creating its own record label. Recode’s report seems to back up those claims, saying Jimmy Iovine floated the idea of signing some recording artists to exclusive contracts. Instead, the company has decided to pay artists like Drake and Pharrell for exclusive rights to stream new songs.