Barstool Sports almost hosted a Bowl game in Mobile, Alabama on Jan. 6, 2020. It would have been a huge sponsor for the brand. Instead, the Bowl game will be sponsored by LendingTree. ESPN and the NCAA came together to shut it down.
The news was first reported by Sports Business Journal‘s Mark J. Burns. John Ourand of the same publication put this tweet out as well.
You can’t blame ESPN here. They know their company is awful and lacks appeal. It’s not the ESPN of old. It’s a bunch of hot take monsters that don’t know their lefts from rights. Barstool is kicking their ass in terms of podcast viewership as well. Any promotion ESPN gives Barstool is just another way for the latter to continue to pass them.
The Brand’s fearless leader, Dave Portnoy also put out a statement:
The “matter of time” part is easy to connect the dots. Bowl games are also shown on Fox, FS1, and CBS Sports Network. It looks possible that they can reach an agreement on one of those channels. Barstool Sports also has invested in Nascar and an amateur boxing company ‘Rough N Rowdy’. Entering into a Bowl game seems like a logical next step. Given the nature of their gambling coverage, one could imagine how the promotion of a game would look. Certainly figures to break boundaries.
This is just another example of what we’re trying to do here. You have to be different. Say whatever you want about Portnoy, but he’s polarizing. It’s impossible to turn on ESPN without losing a few brain cells. Getting arrested at the Super Bowl and creating feuds has only helped his brand. Getting in the mud may be uncomfortable for some but it’s the way to go.