Barstool Sports’ Nardini says site focused on developing personalities
A couple of years ago, I received an excited phone call from my son, who was in high school at the time. Barstool Sports’ Dan “Big Cat” Katz had retweeted me or referenced one of my articles on his “Pardon My Take” podcast, and my son couldn’t believe it. For at least 15 minutes, he viewed me as the coolest dad in his orbit.
At the time, probably sometime in 2016, I had heard of Barstool, of course. But that was the first time I got a glimpse at how popular the site’s top two stars — Katz and his podcast co-host Eric “PFT Commenter” Sollenberger — were among high school and college-age boys.
Earlier this month, I asked Barstool CEO Erika Nardini whether she had any concern that Barstool’s success was too closely associated with two on-air stars. What happens to Barstool if they leave for a more mainstream outlet when their contracts are up around 2020?
“I want ‘Big Cat’ and ‘PFT’ to love being at Barstool for as long as is humanly possible,” Nardini said during an interview at Columbia University’s Sports Management Conference on Nov. 14. “We also have 48 other personalities that we are growing daily who will become the next ‘Big Cat’ and become the next ‘PFT.’ They will be women, they will be people of color, they will be people with all different backgrounds, and they will find their own niche. I don’t think we’re overly dependent on any handful of personalities. I think we’re synonymous with a handful of personalities. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we diversify that.”
Nardini pointed to “Zero Blog Thirty” for military veterans, its “The Podfathers” parenting podcast, a site for women called “Chicks In The Office” and the site’s popular pizza reviews as ways that Barstool is growing more stars and franchises alongside “Big Cat,” “PFT” and “Pardon My Take.”
Nardini: “You like sports? We’ve got stuff for you. You like entertainment? We’ve got stuff for you. You live in New York or you live in a major metropolitan area or in a college town or the Midwest? We got you. And we’re starting to build other brands that resonate beyond age.”
Causeway Media bullish on growth of over-the-top services
Causeway Media Partners had just announced its $23 million financing of a Canadian app developer, You.i TV, this month when I asked the fund’s Bob Higgins to offer his vision of how the sports media business will develop.
Causeway is a venture capital fund backed by Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck that invests heavily in sports media. Its investments hit all areas of sports media, from content with Formula E to distribution with FloSports to technology with You.i TV. Higgins said Causeway’s investments show how bullish the fund is on the growth of over-the-top services.
“The broader market of streaming media for sports is continuing to grow rapidly,” Higgins said. “Our bet is that content will continue to be more and more valuable. Specific individual ways of delivering it may be vulnerable, a la ESPN. Over-the-top solutions are great examples of how things are changing.”