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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.

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.

Betting

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.

Subscriptions

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.

eCommerce

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.

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