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Dave Portnoy: ESPN Rejection Shaped Future Of Barstool

“You can do whatever you want at Barstool. Sink or swim. The internet weeds it out.”

Ricky Keeler

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Sometimes, in life, certain things may not happen the way people want them to, but it may end up being all for the better in the end. For Dave Portnoy, the president and founder of Barstool Sports, that was the case back in 2017 when it appeared that the Pardon My Take podcast was going to move to ESPN as a show called Barstool Van Talk. 

On Friday, Portnoy was a guest on The Dan Dakich Show podcast and he told Dakich that the deal not working out with ESPN worked out for Barstool and defined the company moving forward.

“It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us,” Portnoy said. “Barstool was at an interesting point. If they made a big offer, we wouldn’t have been able to match it. It drove Dan back to Barstool fully and it really kind of galvanized us vs. the world. It plays to our advantage.”

Portnoy went deeper into what exactly happened that cause the partnership to fail. To the surprise of no one, he did mention Sam Ponder. He showed her begrudging respect for the way she put herself in the center of undoing a deal that the network and Barstool had been working on for over a year. 

“I was always a little uncomfortable with the deal because I thought ESPN wanted to test drive Dan and PFT. We have the show and then, I had made fun of Sam Ponder 3 years beforehand on the College Football show. She had her kid on and I said in graphic language, which I wish I didn’t use, nobody is tuning in to see a little kid. You are a very attractive woman. Young guys want to see you. Get the kid off the show.

“She sat on it and I give her credit because that’s something I do. I’m a grudge guy. The day after the show, she’s like this is who we are doing business with and it became a big power struggle with ESPN. They cancelled the show after 1 day.”

Barstool Sports aggressively touts its “us vs. the world mentality.” Portnoy told Dakich that “98%” of what is written about the site is easy to dismiss because it is written by people that don’t make an attempt to understand what he and his staff do.

“There’s a group of people who don’t like me. I’m used to it. Somebody said this to me the other day, he people who don’t like me, if I was walking across water, they would say it’s because I can’t swim. We are not for them. Turn the channel off. Don’t pay attention to me. I don’t care.” 

During the interview, Portnoy said that he feels Barstool has a distinct advantage over competitors such as ESPN. He isn’t trying to find shows that appeal to certain demographics. Portnoy said he accepts he does not have the answers. He will let the audience determine what is and isn’t a good idea.

“I don’t care what your background is. If you come off a cornfield or whatever, if you make me laugh, if you are talented, I will hire you. I don’t tell them what to do. I don’t come up with the ideas. You can do whatever you want at Barstool. Sink or swim. The internet weeds it out.” 

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Barstool Sports CEO: Golf Likely Next Step For Company’s Live Broadcasts

“I think we‘ll start with the biggest sports that we know and love.”

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Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini recently did a wide-ranging interview with AdAge.com about the future of the digital sports outlet’s television aspirations, and she said sports they’re familiar with will take priority.

“”We want sports that appeal to a broad audience. We’re kind of tickled to be able to broadcast things in the first place. So I think we‘ll start with the biggest sports that we know and love, whether it’s basketball and football,” Nardini said. “You could definitely see that extended to golf, that would probably be the next place that we’ll play.”

The questions about Barstool’s future aspirations come after the company’s successful first broadcast of the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. Barstool says the broadcast received nearly 1 million views, peaking at 130,000 concurrent viewers. The outlet also broadcasted the Barstool Sports Invitational that featured Akron, Mississippi State, Toledo, and UAB in November.

Nardini added that the company is interested live televised sports for a few reasons.

“We’re owned by a sports betting company and the more we think about building our sports platform, there’s obviously a huge opportunity for us to convey a whole bunch of offerings to our audience, but certainly betting will be one of them…I think that live sports on television is the last man standing where it’s all anyone tunes in for.”

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Fanatics to Open First Sportsbook Inside FedEx Field

“The location at the home of the Washington Commanders will make it the first sportsbook to open inside an NFL stadium.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Sports licensing giant Fanatics will soon be launching its long-anticipated sportsbook.

The company will open up a physical sportsbook location in Maryland at FedEx Field on January 20. Fanatics has also been granted a license to operate in Massachusetts, tethered to Plainridge Park Casino.

The location at the home of the Washington Commanders will make it the first sportsbook to open inside an NFL stadium. Bettors in the DMV will now be able to place wagers at all their local teams’ venues, as William Hill has an on-site location at Capital One Arena – home of the Capitals and Wizards – and BetMGM has a space at Nationals Park in D.C.

Despite having a physical location at FedEx Field, bettors in Maryland will not be able to place mobile wagers through a Fanatics Sportsbook app.

According to Front Office Sports, Fanatics hopes to have the sportsbook up and running in some fashion in all states where legal by September.

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Pat McAfee Teases Major New Partnership

“We didn’t sleep much the last couple days so we haven’t really gotten to grasp this entire thing.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Up to something season has returned for Pat McAfee.

McAfee has routinely used that phrasing to tease viewers and listeners about major dealings in the works, and on Wednesday he said something big is coming down the pike.

“We’re up to something,” McAfee said. “We got a big partnership coming up. It’s big. We haven’t even chatted about this at all. That’s how much we’ve evolved.”

Pat continued about how the show has matured, saying he was proud they waited until this late in the game to even bring up the fact they’ve got a new deal to announce.

“If this conversation had taken place three years ago, the announcement we’re about to make, it would’ve been two weeks worth of the show,” he said. “Every single segment would’ve been brought back to oh something’s coming, something’s coming, something’s coming.”

“That is changing quickly in a big way,” he added.

McAfee noted that being on the road in Los Angeles for the college football national championship has made the reaction to the new partnership somewhat subdued.

“I should be more excited,” he said. “We didn’t sleep much the last couple days so we haven’t really gotten to grasp this entire thing. We’ve been working on this for a couple years now. Good for us, dude.”

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