October 30, 2015 Last Updated 8:56 am

ESPN announces it will close Grantland, the sports and culture blog

Friday announcement catch fans of the website by surprise – meanwhile its founding editor, Bill Simmons, will be moving to HBO to host a weekly talk show

The sports and pop-culture blog Grantland is being shutdown by ESPN, the site said this afternoon (always reveal bad news late on a Friday).

Grantland-screen-610The blog was started in 2011 by sports journalist Bill Simmons, who remained as editor in chief until announcing that he was leaving in May. There was much speculation about how the site would continue without Simmons – now we know, it won’t.

“Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland,” ESPN told readers today. ” 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,” ESPN said.

Reaction on social media was swift and unanimous: ESPN was making a big mistake. But the site’s traffic has taken a serious hit since May and ESPN may have chosen to act proactively.

“We’re getting out of the pop culture business,” an ESPN source said told CNN.

While the much loved Grantland is being shutdown, it was announced recently that Simmons had signed a deal with HBO to launch a weekly sports talk show.

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