ESPN is suspending Grantland, the company announced via a press release Friday afternoon.
Grantland was previously run by Bill Simmons, who was effectively fired from the company earlier this year. Simmons has since joined HBO, where he will debut a new show in 2016.
In shutting down Grantland, ESPN cited the need to “direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.”
ESPN has said that Grantland writers will have their contracts honored, and that its intent is to hire many of the former employees to write for other ESPN platforms. An ESPN source confirmed this to Business Insider, noting that much of the longform content that defined Grantland will continue but on ESPN.com.
The Big Lead reported that some Grantland staff members may pivot to The Undefeated, a new ESPN venture focused on the intersection between race and sports. An ESPN source told Business Insider that ESPN is still firmly committed to The Undefeated and to 538.com, Nate Silver’s website that is also owned by ESPN.
All Grantland content will be archived on ESPN’s website, according to CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter.
Bill Simmons called the news “simply appalling.”
I loved everyone I worked with at G and loved what we built. Watching good/kind/talented people get treated so callously = simply appalling.
– Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 30, 2015
Here is the announcement from ESPN:
Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland. After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.
Grantland distinguished itself with quality writing, smart ideas, original thinking and fun. We are grateful to those who made it so. Bill Simmons was passionately committed to the site and proved to be an outstanding editor with a real eye for talent. Thanks to all the other writers, editors and staff who worked very hard to create content with an identifiable sensibility and consistent intelligence and quality. We also extend our thanks to Chris Connelly who stepped in to help us maintain the site these past five months as he returns to his prior role.
Despite this change, the legacy of smart long-form sports story-telling and innovative short form video content will continue, finding a home on many of our other ESPN platforms.
Some former Grantland writers have been tweeting about the layoffs:
Well that’s the first time I’ve ever found out I was laid off via Twitter
– Michael Baumann (@MJ_Baumann) October 30, 2015
Grantland started in 2011 and featured some of the best sportswriting, longform, and cultural criticism anywhere on the internet. It helped launch the careers of many young writers, though since Simmons left in April the future was always unclear.
Many of the site’s writers took to Twitter following the announcement:
Grantland was a miracle, that’s how. I loved it and love it and I can’t believe I got to write with those guys for that long.
— Holly Anderson (@HollyAnderson) October 30, 2015
Grantland and the people there changed my life. I’m going to miss it terribly.
— Mike L. Goodman (@TheM_L_G) October 30, 2015
Got to work with warm, smart, wildly talented people who believed in me for five years. I’ve been the luckiest writer on earth.
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) October 30, 2015