Just last week, Penn National Gaming – who has gained a whole lot of attention since purchasing a 36% stake in Barstool Sports in January 2020 – reached a $2 billion dollar agreement to acquire Score Media and Gaming.
And now, Major League Baseball and Barstool Sports are in “significant negotiations” over broadcasting national midweek games with a focus on in-game betting, according to New York Post.
Major League Baseball’s current national TV deal roster leaves an open spot for Barstool to work its magic on regular, non-exclusive Monday and Wednesday games, as ESPN’s new contract, set to begin next year, notably dropped those games.
Per the Post, discussions started recently and while not a certainty yet, discussions are picking up steam.
In considering the potential of such an unconventional and controversial partner, the biggest question we have to ask is: will the broadcasts be exclusive? If so, MLB may face significant backlash from its older fanbase as well as baseball fans who are simply not fans of the Barstool platform and their personalities.
Perhaps Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, gave us all a hint last week when he alluded to talks with one of four major sports networks to air games but did not specify which.
“Do you know we’re talking with major leagues? When I say major leagues, like the four major sports," Portnoy said. "Ever since we announced the Arizona Bowl, major leagues are like, ‘We can give you the rights. We can give you the rights to call one of the major four leagues games.’ Not gonna say which one. We’re looking at it.”
As Portnoy explained, this new announcement comes just a few weeks after Barstool landed exclusive rights to a college football game: the Arizona Bowl. Set to be played on December 31, the 2021 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl game will feature teams from the Mid-American and Mountain West conferences with Barstool as the title sponsor and broadcaster.
(Photo Credit: Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star)
The Arizona Bowl was originally scheduled to be on CBS, but will now stream exclusively on Barstool’s website and app. It’s expected that the “love-it or hate-it” brand may sign other deals for live television rights in the near future.
As broadcast television slows down and streaming services heat up by pushing out exciting content, this groundbreaking development is just another sign that we have entered a new dimension of digital media, seemingly tailored to a younger, more quirky audience.
Whether you like it or not, here Barstool comes.
Stephanie is a recent graduate of New York Law School and a law clerk at Geragos & Geragos. You can find her on Twitter @SWeissenburger_ and Instagram @Steph_ExplainsItAll