Barstool bets on live sports in publicity pitch – The Hollywood Reporter

Barstool Sports is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2023. But what started as a voice-powered sports blog is betting it can complete its transformation into a digital media powerhouse, with live events, broadcasts reality shows, podcasts and other entertainment fare.

On Wednesday night, Barstool executives and talent were scheduled to give this pitch to advertisers at Webster Hall in New York City, outlining a content roadmap with broad ambition.

One of the mainstays of Barstools’ new content push is an expansion of live sporting events. Although Barstool won’t pay $1 billion for NFL rights, the company has strategically signed deals for college sports and now to televise the annual FDNY-NYPD charity hockey game.

“What you’re going to see is that sport can be covered differently, shows can be crafted differently, and the experience around it can be experienced differently,” Barstool CEO Erika Nardini said. The Hollywood Reporter. “Hopefully this will take us into a new stratosphere in terms of not only the things this company can do, but also how brands can work with us.”

To begin, in November, Barstool Sports will host its own men’s college basketball tournament, the Barstool Sports Invitational, from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Akron, Mississippi State, Toledo and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have committed to participate.

“We’ll air it, we’ll run all the sponsorship around it and we’ll cover it and create it in a way that mixes comedy, entertainment and live sports in a way that I think will feel really different and will resonate with that younger audience,” Nardini says.

Then, on December 30, Barstool will air the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, leveraging its talent, including founder Dave Portnoy, to cover the game.

And in April 2023, the company will broadcast the annual FDNY-NYPD hockey game.

“Live sport is the best thing on TV. You don’t know what’s going to happen, there’s rivalry, there’s drama, there’s wins and losses and upsets,” says Nardini , adding of the company’s plans “it’s not just sports and it’s not just entertainment and it’s not just comedy, it’s kind of a combination of all three things.

And on Wednesday, Barstool will also roll out a new slate of content, including reality shows like Crush or Cash and competition series Elite AthElite Bar Stool.

A podcast by Los Angeles Lakers star Patrick Beverley, a documentary following the popular podcast team Pardon My Take, and a gold tournament featuring Barstool talent called the Barstool Writer Cup are also in the works.

“We take our talent and our personalities and weave them into all types of shows,” says Nardini.

And the publicity pitch comes as the company is set to be fully acquired by casino operator Penn National. Penn acquired a majority stake in Barstool in 2020 and exercised its option to buy out the rest of the company last month.

“It gives us guns, silver and steel with which we are associated with the largest regional casino operator in the country,” says Nardini, noting that Barstool talent can visit Penn properties and that Barstool may work more closely with theScore, which Penn acquired last year.

“People used to say ‘hey, why can’t you put sports scores and real journalism on Barstool Sports? And I would say it’s because we don’t,” Nardini says. “Now we can bring advertisers theScore, which is more pure sports journalism.”

And the company will roll out a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) platform intended to connect brands with college athletes. Called TwoYay, the platform will be free to athletes and is intended to help athletes who don’t have a team of agents to help them strike VOID deals, whether it’s a basketball player from division 1 or a division 3 volleyball player.

“The top 3 quarterbacks will get big deals on drinks or sportswear, and everyone else will get nothing, or if they’re lucky, a car dealership near their school,” Nardini said of the logic behind the platform. “It’s creating something that doesn’t exist.”

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