Spotify Acquires The Ringer

The Ringer

Spotify has acquired The Ringer.

Spotify has purchased The Ringer, Bill Simmons’ sports and culture site, the companies announced today (February 5). The move follows the streaming service’s expansion into podcasts. (The Ringer has 30 podcasts.) The Ringer, which was previously in partnership with Vox Media, also has a video network, film production division, and book imprint, as The New York Times notes.

Simmons, the former ESPN commentator who founded The Ringer in 2016, said in a statement: “Spotify has the unique ability to truly supercharge both content and creator talent across genres. We spent the last few years building a world-class sports and pop culture multimedia digital company and believe Spotify can take us to another level. We couldn’t be more excited to unlock Spotify’s power of scale and discovery, introduce The Ringer to a new global audience, and build the world’s flagship sports audio network.”

I know I’m probably not like most casual podcast listeners, but the moment any of this content goes behind any kind of Spotify exclusive wall, I’m out on the shows. Neil Cybart’s take on why Spotify spent the money here feels right to me. The economics of streaming music isn’t great and they’re betting on sports radio/talk and podcasts.

The Ringer Relaunches

The Ringer

The Ringer has relaunched using Vox’s Chorus1 content management system and hosting:

What you see today is, as before, a website—but hopefully one that is a more readable, more navigable, better organized, and more coherent experience. This site is a passion for everyone employed here, and its usability is paramount. We want to keep growing, and to keep pushing ourselves to write and produce stories that are unique, irreverent, unbound by the conventions of the web’s worst practices, but also be pragmatic about how to have the most fun covering sports, pop culture, technology, food, Game of Thrones, the NBA, and yes, even politics. We think this new site will help us do just that.

It looks way better than the old one.

  1. Hey, cool name!

The Ringer Moves from Medium to Vox

The Ringer

The New York Times has reported that Bill Simmons’s website, The Ringer, will be moving from Medium to Vox Media:

Mr. Simmons, a former ESPN personality, will keep ownership of The Ringer, but Vox will sell advertising for the site and share in the revenue. The Ringer will leave its current home on Medium, where it has been hosted since it began in June 2016.

Jim Bankoff, Vox’s chief executive, said in a phone interview that the partnership was the first of its type for the company and would allow it to expand its offerings to advertisers.

First, this seems like a pretty big hit to Medium as a publishing platform for bigger websites. Maybe Medium is just better suited for long-form writing for individuals that don’t want to set up their own blogs, and want something more professional looking than a Facebook note? Second, The Ringer needs to get a whole lot better to survive. The content just isn’t very good. The sportswriting and analysis is thin, the music reviews are mostly a joke, and the pop-culture pieces lack the bite or comedy of Grantland. The Ringer lacks an editorial identity and voice.

An Alternate History of Third Eye Blind

Third Eye Blind

Rob Harvilla, writing on The Ringer, with an alternate history of Third Eye Blind:

Two decades! You’re (probably) old! But Third Eye Blind holds up. The full anniversary treatment is in order, complete with a victory-lap tour. But the punch line is that the album got so huge, and the band’s eventual split was so irreparable, that there are two bands now, and two tours.

Salazar and founding guitarist-songwriter Kevin Cadogan — who left the band in roughly 2006 and 2000, respectively, after vicious and prolonged battles with Jenkins over the holy rock-band triumvirate of money, power, and credit — are on the other one. The one not officially traveling under the Third Eye Blind banner.

Bill Simmons Talks About the First Year of the Ringer

The Ringer

Recode sat down to talk with Bill Simmons about first year of The Ringer, ESPN, and his canceled HBO show:

We talked to Yahoo. We talked to Vice a little bit. But the thing about my ESPN experience — that I was terrified to replicate — was you align yourself with somebody — and really, you’re aligning yourself with one or two people — that just believes in you and your idea and what you do. If those people go away, or those people change, now you’re stuck with different people who might not believe in what you want to do. I just didn’t want to go through that again.

It sounds like his podcasting network, for the most part, is what’s bringing in the money while the website continues to find its footing. That fits my own habits: I don’t read the website at all, thought the TV show sucked, and listen to quite a few of the podcasts.1

  1. Although with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl that may make those unlistenable for a little while.

The ‘Keepin’ it 1600′ Guys Launch Crooked Media

The Ringer

The hosts of the popular podcast, Keepin’ it 1600, have left The Ringer and started their own media company, “Crooked Media.” Today they’ve launched their new podcast Pod Save America. The Daily Beast has more:

Just before Christmas, former Obama administration staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor recorded what would become the final episode of their popular 2016 campaign podcast Keepin’ It 1600 for Bill Simmons’ The Ringer network. Today, they are back with a new podcast—Pod Save America—and this time it is under the banner of their new company, the pointedly titled Crooked Media.

Breaking Down the (Fake) Team’s Decisions in ‘Draft Day’

The Ringer

If you’ve listened to more than a handful of episodes of Encore you’ve heard me rant about the movie Draft Day at one point or another. Riley McAtee, at The Ringer, breaks down the trades in that abomination of a movie and there’s just no way I can’t share this:

But the Browns’ owner (a how-did-I-get-here Frank Langella) wants Weaver to make a splash in the draft, and he’s infatuated with Bo Callahan, a quarterback widely expected to go no. 1 overall. And why wouldn’t he want him? A linebacker or a running back can’t SAVE FOOTBALL IN CLEVELAND. So when Seahawks GM Tom Michaels (Patrick St. Esprit) lays out a deal that would give Cleveland the no. 1 pick, it’s Weaver’s chance to … you guessed it: SAVE FOOTBALL IN CLEVELAND. By the end of the movie, Weaver’s made three deals and numerous other decisions. But did he SAVE FOOTBALL IN CLEVELAND? Let’s grade every major draft-related decision in the movie to find out:

This movie is worth watching just to prop up your local liquor store’s monthly take.

The State of The Surprise Album

The Ringer

Speaking of The Ringer, here’s Lindsay Zoladz, writing about the idea of the “surprise album” release:

“Surprise” is pop music’s latest fetish commodity, a new but widely accepted virtue in an industry desperately trying to adapt to the demands (and attention spans) of the digital age. The album promotional cycle used to be pretty uniform: Announce the release date a few months prior, send a single to radio, and tour once the album comes out. But these tactics have now been replaced by, say, obtuse teasers that often feel like perfume ads directed by Terrence Malick and promotional hieroglyphs graffitied onto urban sidewalks (and which often, in the case of Arcade Fire and more recently Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, result in apologies).