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One of the most outspoken members of the sports analyst community, Bill Simmons' career took a wild new direction last year when he was fired by ESPN and scooped up by premium cabler HBO. Perhaps unexpectedly, the pop culture-savvy columnist did not see his first HBO project go the distance, as the mid-week chat show Any Given Wednesday was cancelled after only 17 episodes had aired. And while you might have your predictions about why it got axed, Simmons has his own scapegoats, and one of them is the fact that the show aired on a weekly basis.
I thought the show, in retrospect, I wish it'd been monthly. I think it's really hard to do a weekly show and just pop in and out and be like, 'here's my take.' Cause the way the sports cycle goes, with that 24/7. You know, on Monday morning, everyone's banging podcasts, all those FS1, ESPN shows. Everyone's got the take on whatever and I don't know how you just parachute in on Wednesday and have a take that's greater than everyone's take.
Bill Simmons, in his interview with Breakfast Club Power 105.1, claimed he wasn't a big fan of putting the show out every Wednesday, as he wasn't able to properly pull apart the previous week of sports news for solid angles. Obviously, Any Given Sunday wasn't able to offer the same amount of depth with its reporting as shows (and podcasts and webcasts and radio broadcasts) that put out content on a daily basis. An alternate to that, for Simmons, would be to have a full four weeks to produce a full spectrum of original coverage for every episode. But there likely isn't any network out there that would be comfortable and happy putting out shows on a monthly basis rather than weekly.
Perhaps he would have been more pleased had the show aired on a night other than Wednesday. Weekends are always big for sports events, and HBO was previously only known for putting out its series on Sunday nights. It's hard to know how any HBO show would do in the middle of the week, put up against the ratings-grabbing world of network TV; would more people watch Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory on Thursday nights?
Bill Simmons, who also offered up alternate reasons for his dismissal from ESPN, also laid part of Any Given Wednesday's failings on the anti-fanbase he has developed over the years. In his uncensored words:
When you have some success with anything, I think, at a certain point people are like, 'Fuck this guy.'
It's likely that HBO execs would have a different avenue of reasoning behind the cancellation of Any Given Sunday, and I'd point the finger at the talk show's beyond-dismal ratings. The largest same-night audience Bill Simmons and his big guests got was around 362,000 people for the second episode of the season, while the smallest viewership was a paltry 82,000 pairs of eyes. Very, very few shows outside of public access would ever survive with numbers that bad, and Any Given Sunday was not at all an exception here.
Any Given Wednesday can no longer be found airing on Wednesday nights on HBO, but there are still lots of shows we can look forward to seeing in the future, and you can find a ton of them on our midseason premiere schedule.