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Bill Simmons is now with HBO. Is he a good fit? Here’s what our social data says about that.

Jun 1, 2016 | Insights

Arguably one of the bigger names the so-called “new media” (remember that term?) ever created in the world of sports and pop culture commentary is Mr. Bill Simmons.

As of this week, to some fanfare, Simmons has launched a new website called The Ringer under the newly formed Bill Simmons Media Group. And later this month, June 22nd to be exact, BSMG premieres his new HBO talk show, ‘Any Given Wednesday.’

The famously outspoken columnist, podcaster, and all-around sports guy has gone out of his way to make certain people know The Ringer will be a different beast from Grantland; the latter, the popular site whose editorial voice Simmons dominated — the website that in fact made him a star — but one that was ultimately owned and operated by his longtime employers ESPN, an overlord Simmons ultimately found stifling.

When asked on Twitter a couple of months back what lessons he’d learned from his time at Grantland the notoriously candid Simmons responded:

This is not just a place to read about knee injuries, and catch some irreverent Sports Center-type one-liners. This is venturing into the areas of the Vices and BuzzFeeds, most ambitiously featuring a podcast network, and content covering the worlds beyond the gridiron and court.

OKAY… So what does StatSocial have to say about this?

You may even from here see that below there’s a chart. One with stats. You’ll see the word “stat” in our company name.

With HBO taking a fairly sizable gamble on the ever-increasingly busy Simmons, we wanted to dig deep into our consumer data archive and see if the bet on Simmons makes sense. The first thing we did was run social audience reports on fifteen top HBO shows — and then cross-referenced the percentage of those fans who also share an affinity for Bill Simmons. For example, a significant percentage, 29.33% to be exact, of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” fans are already fans of Simmons.

Who we are is StatSocial, and the main thing we do is analyze and provide detailed reporting on social media audiences. By that we mean any people you can imagine grouping together in a social media context.

These groupings can range from the obvious things like fans of a certain politician, to people who simply used a certain phrase or hashtag, or even used a specific word in their posts. We provide you a detailed analysis — all in a nifty and easy to navigate report — of that group. Demographics, geographic locations? Yes, and child’s play. We dig far deeper than that. Favorite TV shows, movies, books, celebs, laundry detergents, national parks, and even personality types.

As we like to do around here — comparing various groupings and/or pairings of things, and digging into their most distinctive, telling, and unique-to-StatSocial numbers to show how audiences differ, or perhaps don’t, from one another — we’ll be digging into the broadcasting line-up of good ol’ Home Box Office; rifling through the likes, dislikes, habits, behaviors, and yes the politics of the audiences’ of some of their most popular programs.

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The second chart is where we get fancy and bring much-needed context to the numbers above.

Here we employ one of our favorite and most unique features, the “multiple.” What the “multiple” determines — using the behaviors of the average social media user as our baseline — is the likelihood of the member of one social audience being the member of another.

Sometimes the whole narrative can change when you view an audience through this lens. Like, for example, you’ll find out that fans of your detergent are 15 times more likely to be Toronto Blue Jays’ fans. Perhaps a marketer realizing this may have some ideas for a potential new spokesman.

Below the baseline is the average social media user, but to keep it simple we narrowed it down to just those from the great U.S. of A.

In this example things more or less conform to expectation. An example insight below is that fans of “Ballers” (yo, Dwayne the Rock Johnson) are 12.65x more likely than the average social media user to be a fan of Bill Simmons. In fact, Bill Simmons “over-indexes” (which means they score >1x) on 12 of the 15 shows we analyzed.

So what about those three shows that find their audiences vastly less likely than the average social media user to be a fan of Simmons?

‘Girls,’ okay. That’s a little “dog bites man.” Simmons podcast listeners know he is a big fan of the show, even if his fans aren’t. Fine. But ‘Game of Thrones’? Simmons is producing a ton of content on The Ringer and even for HBO dedicated to HBO’s highest rated show. The Ringer has a podcast called “The Watch,” which is centered around Thrones and BSMG is producing “After The Thrones” for HBO, a show modeled after the ever-present Chris Hardwick wrap-up shows for Doctor Who, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead and so forth. For that reason, it is a bit surprising to see the under-indexed score.

As for ‘Looking,’ it may not be the sort of show that appeals to the sports fan who enjoys gay-centric dramedies, or perhaps Simmons’ appeal is weaker with that demographic. All we can say if a marketer at HBO were to use StatSocial, they’d know beyond mere intuition to maybe not promote ‘Looking’ so hard both prior to and immediately after Bill Simmons’ show.

It’s up to the individual perusing our stats to interpret the data. We’re always here to offer our insight, but we also encourage our users to employ their intuitions, imaginations, and of course educations.

For our last ranking in this specific study, we decided to — for the sheer fun of it — use our “multiple” metric, but only apply it to new baseline data comparing the audiences to HBO fans rather than the average American. Again, a sample insight here is that Bill Simmons fans are 7.9x more likely to care about ‘True Detective’ than the average HBO fan.

To learn much more about StatSocial, the curious are encouraged to visit the StatSocial site itself, where you’ll find all sorts of stuff including sample reports.

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If you like what you’ve read, please take a few minutes to watch this overview of StatSocial’s data:

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