How Does Barstool Make Money? The Barstool Business Model In A Nutshell

Barstool, otherwise known as Barstool Sports, is an American digital media company with a core focus on pop culture and sport, founded by David Portnoy in 2003 in Massachusetts as a print publication serving the Boston metropolitan area. As an online publication, Barstool has a diverse revenue generation model, spanning from podcast, video and display advertising, betting, subscriptions, pay-per-view, and e-commerce.

Business Model ElementAnalysisImplicationsExamples
Value PropositionBarstool Sports’ value proposition centers around providing sports and pop culture enthusiasts with irreverent, entertaining, and unique content. For Audiences, Barstool offers: – Edgy and Entertaining Content: A mix of sports, humor, and pop culture content. – Fan Engagement: A passionate community of fans and followers. – Unique Perspective: A distinctive and unfiltered take on sports and entertainment. For Advertisers and Partners, Barstool provides: – Access to a Loyal Audience: A dedicated and engaged fan base. – Authentic Advertising Integration: Creative and non-traditional advertising opportunities. Barstool offers a unique and entertaining content experience that resonates with its audience.Provides audiences with edgy and entertaining content. Builds a passionate and engaged community of fans. Offers advertisers access to a dedicated and authentic audience. Attracts sports and pop culture enthusiasts seeking a different and entertaining perspective. Offers advertisers creative and integrated advertising options.– Edgy content appeals to a specific audience segment. – Fan engagement fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty. – Access to a loyal audience benefits advertisers. – Authentic advertising integration enhances brand visibility. – Unique perspective differentiates Barstool from traditional media.
Customer SegmentsBarstool Sports serves various customer segments, including: 1. Sports Enthusiasts: Fans of sports looking for unique content. 2. Pop Culture Enthusiasts: Individuals interested in entertainment and pop culture. 3. Advertisers and Partners: Brands seeking to reach Barstool’s dedicated audience. Barstool caters to a diverse range of consumers and advertisers.Focuses on diverse customer segments, including sports and pop culture enthusiasts and advertisers. Customizes content and advertising opportunities to cater to each group’s interests and objectives. Provides a versatile platform for entertainment and brand promotion.– Serving diverse customer segments broadens Barstool’s user base. – Tailoring content and advertising enhances customer engagement.
Distribution StrategyBarstool Sports’ distribution strategy primarily relies on digital platforms, including its website, social media, and podcast networks. Users can access content through these channels. Additionally, the company organizes events and sells merchandise to engage its audience further. Barstool uses a mix of organic and paid social media promotion to reach its target audience.Primarily utilizes distribution through digital platforms, making content accessible to a global audience. Offers a wide range of content, including podcasts, blogs, and videos. Engages its audience through events and merchandise sales. Relies on social media promotion for user acquisition and engagement. Ensures easy access to its content for fans.– Digital distribution aligns with the preferences of its tech-savvy audience. – A variety of content options keeps users engaged. – Events and merchandise strengthen the brand and revenue streams. – Social media promotion reaches a wide and engaged audience.
Revenue StreamsBarstool Sports generates revenue through multiple streams: 1. Advertising: Sells advertising space on its digital platforms and podcasts. 2. Merchandise Sales: Sells branded merchandise to fans. 3. Events: Hosts events and charges admission fees. 4. Subscription Services: Offers premium content and experiences through Barstool Gold. Advertising remains a significant source of revenue for Barstool.Relies on revenue from: 1. Advertising on digital platforms and podcasts. 2. Merchandise sales to fans. 3. Admission fees from hosted events. 4. Subscription services through Barstool Gold. Diversifies income through various sources, with advertising as a primary source.– Advertising generates revenue from brand partnerships. – Merchandise sales capitalize on fan loyalty. – Events provide revenue and engage the community. – Subscription services offer premium content.
Marketing StrategyBarstool Sports’ marketing strategy includes social media promotion, content creation, event marketing, and merchandise promotion. The company leverages social media platforms, particularly Twitter, to engage its audience and promote content. Content creation remains at the core of its strategy, creating viral moments and discussions. Event marketing and merchandise sales are additional revenue drivers and community engagement tools.Utilizes social media platforms, especially Twitter, for audience engagement and content promotion. Creates viral and engaging content that resonates with its audience. Hosts events and promotes merchandise to drive revenue and community engagement. Effectively promotes content through various channels, including podcasts, blogs, and videos.– Social media engagement fosters a dedicated community. – Content creation generates discussions and interest. – Events and merchandise strengthen brand loyalty and revenue. – Multi-channel promotion enhances brand visibility.
Organization StructureBarstool Sports’ organizational structure includes content creation teams, social media management, event planning, advertising sales teams, and merchandise teams. Content creation teams focus on producing engaging content. Social media teams handle audience engagement and promotion. Event planning teams organize live events. Advertising sales teams manage brand partnerships. Merchandise teams oversee the creation and sale of branded products. This structure supports content creation, audience engagement, and revenue generation.Employs specialized teams for content creation, social media management, event planning, advertising sales, and merchandise operations. Enhances content quality through content creation teams. Engages with the audience through social media teams. Generates revenue through event planning, advertising sales, and merchandise operations. Supports content creation, audience engagement, and revenue diversification.– Specialized teams ensure high-quality content. – Social media engagement fosters community growth. – Event planning generates event-related revenue. – Advertising sales secure brand partnerships. – Merchandise operations drive fan loyalty and merchandise sales.
Competitive AdvantageBarstool Sports’ competitive advantage arises from its unique and edgy content, passionate fan base, diverse revenue streams, and social media presence. Unique and Edgy Content: Offers content that stands out in the sports and pop culture space. Passionate Fan Base: Engages with a highly dedicated and loyal audience. Diverse Revenue Streams: Generates income from advertising, events, merchandise, and subscriptions. Social Media Presence: Utilizes social media effectively for audience engagement and promotion.Derives a competitive advantage from: – Content that appeals to a specific audience segment. – A passionate and engaged fan base that supports the brand. – Diverse revenue streams that ensure financial stability. – A strong social media presence that extends its reach and impact. Sets itself apart in the sports and pop culture media industry through its unique content and dedicated community.– Unique content resonates with a specific audience segment. – A passionate fan base fosters brand loyalty. – Diverse revenue streams ensure financial stability. – Social media engagement amplifies its reach and influence.



Origin Story

Barstool, otherwise known as Barstool Sports, is an American digital media company with a core focus on pop culture and sport.

The company was founded by David Portnoy in 2003 in Massachusetts as a print publication serving the Boston metropolitan area. Portnoy had a desire to create a business that allowed him to pursue his passion for sports. He was also a keen gambler and noted the lack of online publications writing about gambling topics.

As a result, the original Barstool publication featured mostly gambling advertisements and fantasy sports projects. It then incorporated social commentary about men-oriented topics with the first online version appearing in 2007.

In 2016, The Chernin Group purchased a majority stake in Barstool Sports and the company headquarters moved to New York City. In 2020, the sports betting mobile app Barstool Sportsbook was launched.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company also released the Barstool Fund to provide financial support to struggling small business owners. The fund has already raised over $39 million from several significant donors including Elon Musk and NFL star Tom Brady.

Barstool revenue generation

As an online publication, Barstool has a diverse revenue generation model. As we will see below, much of is related to advertising in some shape or form.

Podcast advertising

Barstool podcasts represent the majority of company revenue. Advertisements are played throughout each podcast and Barstool receives a fixed fee based on how many listeners it can attract. Barstool podcasts are very popular in the United States, ranked third behind NPR (National Public Radio) and New York Times podcasts.

Video advertising

Barstool video content is also available on many different devices and platforms.

Advertisements commonly feature in these videos and the company is compensated for every impression it generates.

Display advertising

Display-ads are also prevalent on the Barstool website. However, this is unlikely to be a significant source of revenue for the company given how many users employ ad-blocking browser extensions.

Nevertheless, Barstool earns a fee for every impression.


On the aforementioned Barstool Sportsbook app, the company also earns money as a bookmaker when betters lose their money

The company charges users a commission for placing a bet. Known in betting parlance as vigorish, Barstool essentially offers less favorable odds on a single bet to ensure it wins more bets than it loses. This reduces risk and allows the company to collect more revenue.


Barstool also offers a premium subscription service called Barstool Gold, giving readers access to premium content for one year ($50) or two years ($100).

Barstool Gold was made free for all users due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pay-per-view events

Periodically, Barstool also charges users to watch pay-per-view boxing as part of the so-called Rough N’ Rowdy amateur boxing league in West Virginia. Tickets to these events are usually $19.99 per viewer.


The company has also developed a cult following. Colloquially known as “stoolies”, devoted fans can buy a range of merchandise from the Barstool website.

Key takeaways

  • Barstool is an American sport and digital media company founded by David Portnoy, who wanted to start a business around his love of sports and gambling.
  • Barstool generates revenue in many ways, but the bulk comes from advertising placed in its podcasts and videos.
  • Barstool also offers a subscription service giving readers access to premium content and sells a range of branded merchandise. It also manages an amateur boxing league and charges viewers via the pay-per-view model.

Key Highlights

  • Founding and Focus: Barstool Sports, founded by David Portnoy in 2003 in Massachusetts, is a digital media company centered around pop culture and sports. It began as a print publication catering to the Boston metropolitan area.
  • Diverse Revenue Model: Barstool employs various revenue generation strategies to sustain its operations and growth. These include podcast, video, and display advertising, betting, subscriptions, pay-per-view events, and e-commerce.
  • Origin Story: Portnoy’s passion for sports and gambling led to the creation of Barstool Sports. It started as a platform with gambling advertisements and gradually expanded to include social commentary on topics oriented toward men.
  • Acquisition and Expansion: The Chernin Group acquired a majority stake in Barstool Sports in 2016, and the company’s headquarters moved to New York City. The introduction of the Barstool Sportsbook mobile app in 2020 expanded its offerings.
  • Barstool Fund: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barstool launched the Barstool Fund, raising significant funds to support struggling small business owners.
  • Revenue Streams:
    • Podcast Advertising: Barstool’s podcasts, highly popular in the US, generate a substantial portion of the company’s revenue through advertisements played during episodes.
    • Video Advertising: Video content across various platforms includes advertisements, and Barstool earns revenue based on impressions.
    • Display Advertising: Display ads on the Barstool website contribute to revenue, although ad-blocking software usage may affect its impact.
    • Betting: The Barstool Sportsbook app allows the company to profit as a bookmaker, primarily through commissions on bets placed by users.
    • Subscriptions: The Barstool Gold subscription service provides users with premium content access for a fee. During the pandemic, Barstool Gold was offered for free.
    • Pay-Per-View Events: Barstool hosts pay-per-view amateur boxing events, known as Rough N’ Rowdy, where viewers are charged for access.
    • E-commerce: Devoted fans, known as “stoolies,” can purchase branded merchandise from the Barstool website.

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Related Business Model Types

Platform Business Model

A platform business model generates value by enabling interactions between people, groups, and users by leveraging network effects. Platform business models usually comprise two sides: supply and demand. Kicking off the interactions between those two sides is one of the crucial elements for a platform business model success.

Marketplace Business Model

A marketplace is a platform where buyers and sellers interact and transact. The platform acts as a marketplace that will generate revenues in fees from one or all the parties involved in the transaction. Usually, marketplaces can be classified in several ways, like those selling services vs. products or those connecting buyers and sellers at B2B, B2C, or C2C level. And those marketplaces connecting two core players, or more.

Network Effects

A network effect is a phenomenon in which as more people or users join a platform, the more the value of the service offered by the platform improves for those joining afterward.

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Attention Merchant Business Model

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.

Wholesale Business Model

The wholesale model is a selling model where wholesalers sell their products in bulk to a retailer at a discounted price. The retailer then on-sells the products to consumers at a higher price. In the wholesale model, a wholesaler sells products in bulk to retail outlets for onward sale. Occasionally, the wholesaler sells direct to the consumer, with supermarket giant Costco the most obvious example.

Retail Business Model

A retail business model follows a direct-to-consumer approach, also called B2C, where the company sells directly to final customers a processed/finished product. This implies a business model that is mostly local-based, it carries higher margins, but also higher costs and distribution risks.


A B2B2C is a particular kind of business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, it does that via another business. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C. The company offering the service might gain direct access to consumers over time.

Crowdsourcing Business Model

The term “crowdsourcing” was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Jeff Howe in a 2006 article titled Rise of Crowdsourcing. Though the practice has existed in some form or another for centuries, it rose to prominence when eCommerce, social media, and smartphone culture began to emerge. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining knowledge, goods, services, or opinions from a group of people. These people submit information via social media, smartphone apps, or dedicated crowdsourcing platforms.

Open-Core Business Model

While the term has been coined by Andrew Lampitt, open-core is an evolution of open-source. Where a core part of the software/platform is offered for free, while on top of it are built premium features or add-ons, which get monetized by the corporation who developed the software/platform. An example of the GitLab open core model, where the hosted service is free and open, while the software is closed.

Open Source vs. Freemium

Open source is licensed and usually developed and maintained by a community of independent developers. While the freemium is developed in-house. Thus the freemium give the company that developed it, full control over its distribution. In an open-source model, the for-profit company has to distribute its premium version per its open-source licensing model.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Freeterprise Business Model

A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Franchising Business Model

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.

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