When you think of the next version of the nightly news, you think of Vice.
But what do you think about when you think of a totally new sports brand that fits this mobile and social generation?
I'm arguing the answer is Barstool Sports.
Barstool Sports is one of the most talked about new sports-related companies to appear in the last decade. Since early last year, it's been 51 percent owned by The Chernin Group, which kept the core personalities of the original Boston-based Barstool and pushed it out nationally. Besides podcasts, it also has a website and video clips it distributes socially, and it's experimented with a linear TV show.
Barstool Sports also has one of the most popular sports podcasts: "Pardon My Take," hosted by Big Cat and PFT Commenter.
If its traffic is actually ahead of the Bill Simmons Podcast, as the Apple Podcast rankings have shown for the last year, that would mean "Pardon My Take" regularly brings in more than 500,000 listeners per episode. It's a remarkable achievement for a year-old podcast and a testament to the power of Barstool's brand of humor, irreverent takes and sports for 18- to 30-year-old men.
But don't take it from me: I asked a poll question a few days ago about what "new" sports start-up would be the biggest brand in 2021. Here was my list:
- Simmons' The Ringer
- Barstool Sports
- Bleacher Report
- Subscription site The Athletic
Are there other hot new sports brands that should have been on the list? SB Nation? Deadspin?
The fact it's tough to name four says something about the start-ups. It also says something about the strength of the sports incumbents. ESPN may be nearly 40-years-old, but these start-ups have a long way to go to equal its power.
I immediately heard complaints about my list of four emerging sports brands. In particular, some would say Barstool is really more a lifestyle brand for young men, I was told. It's about post-college life, girls, humor, with a dash of sports thrown in.
But the results speak for themselves.
The voting was close for a while but then Barstool pulled away with it.