Bleacher Report debuts new NFL show as part of new talent-centric programming strategy

After the success of “Game of Zones” and House of Highlights, Bleacher Report wants to build more content franchises centered on personalities.

On Wednesday, Bleacher Report is debuting a new weekly NFL-centric video series called “Simms & Lefkoe: The Show,” which will recap that week in football. The show will be hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and longtime Bleacher Report host Adam Lefkoe and feature studio banter, interviews with athletes and irreverent field segments covering various aspects of the NFL and its athletes. The show is a key part of a new NFL-focused content franchise for Bleacher Report, which also includes three weekly podcasts hosted by Simms and Lefkoe.

The show follows in the footsteps of other talent-led content brands from Bleacher Report, including House of Highlights, which is overseen by Omar Raja, and animated shows such as “Game of Zones” and “Gridiron Heights,” which are overseen by brothers Craig and Adam Malamut.

“We want to develop original programming that mirrors the interest of our audience,” said Joe Yanarella, svp of content for Bleacher Report. “We have front-facing talent that connects with them in an engaging way, so we want to build communities around that.”

Each episode of “Simms & Lefkoe: The Show” will run 15 to 20 minutes and will be available on Bleacher Report’s site and mobile app and YouTube. Clips and segments will be distributed across Bleacher Report properties, YouTube, Facebook and other platforms. For now, the show is scheduled to run through the Super Bowl.

The show is designed to be a football-centric talk show in the vein of Kimmel and Fallon, with segments that could include doing off-the-field activities with players, such as taking two close teammates and testing their knowledge of each other, or going with rookie Jets quarterback Sam Darnold on a bus tour of New York City with local Jets fans.

“The core value statement of the show is not to be HBO’s ‘Real Sports,’” Yanarella said. “We’ll cover serious topics in player interviews, but this is more in the entertainment genre. We want to do stuff that has some fun and bite, which tends to be more social and viral.”

The show will also mark Bleacher Report’s first foray into sports-betting content. “Simms & Lefkoe: The Show” will have segments where fans get to bet on games with Lefkoe’s money. The idea is to normalize gambling among viewers as more states legalize sports gambling.

“It’s still very territorial right now in terms of legality,” Yanarella said. “We want to get everyone emotionally invested in the idea of betting without having them actually place bets.”

For the show, Bleacher Report has hired a new showrunner and several production staffers as part of an overall team of 20 people, the publisher said. The centerpiece will remain the two hosts, Yanarella said.

“Short-form news and analysis is kind of overproduced these days — everyone does it, so it’s difficult to stand out,” Yanarella said. “Now, developing front-facing talent that connects with an audience and [through which] you can build a community around is what will differentiate you. So we’re making more investments in that category.”

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