Barstool Sports has 25 podcasts and brought in $15 million from them last year
Barstool Sports recorded more than $15 million in podcasting revenue in 2018, according to a source. Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports, declined to comment on how much revenue Barstool’s podcasts generated last year, but confirmed that it has become a meaningful business for the company. Half of Barstool’s advertising revenue is from podcasts, Nardini said.
Barstool’s network of podcasts currently consists of 25 active shows. Top shows include “Pardon My Take” (which is a top-10 U.S. podcast according to podcast measurement firm Podtrac); “Spittin Chiclets” (an NHL-focused podcast with former players Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette); “Call Her Daddy” (sex and relationships); and “Fore Play.”
The cumulative reach across all of Barstool’s podcasts was 7.9 million uniques in January, up from 4.3 million unique viewers a year ago, according to Podtrac data provided by Barstool. Podcasts were also downloaded 37.9 million times in January, up from 19.9 million in January 2018, Nardini said. This has helped make Barstool a top-10 podcast publisher in the U.S., according to Podtrac. It ranked above such well-known media brands as ESPN but still trailed podcast heavyweights like NPR and The New York Times.
Audience growth is translating into revenue. Barstool has already sold 50 percent of its expected 2019 podcast inventory upfront, Nardini said. The average rate per spot grew 30 percent year over year. Other existing sponsors for Barstool podcasts include New Amsterdam vodka, FanDuel and SeatGeek.
Barstool’s podcasts are anchored by personalities, such as Dan Katz and PFTCommenter on “Pardon My Take.” This influencer approach has helped bring in loyal audiences and also turn some of these shows into franchises that can deliver different forms of revenue. For example, “Call Her Daddy” — which is a real name for a show in which hosts Alex Cooper and Sofia Franklyn talk about sex and relationships while living in New York City — is sponsored by men’s health brand Roman, but Barstool also creates merch for fans of the show. It has also become Barstool Sports’ second-biggest podcast, after “Pardon My Take,” and 70 percent of the audience is female, Nardini said.
“Podcasts are the single most compelling way we create IP,” said Nardini. “And it’s very natural for Barstool — podcasts and blogs are not that different.”
The podcasting market is growing, although still small. Podcast ad revenues are expected to reach $514.5 million in the U.S. this year, which pales in comparison to the tens of billions of dollars that go toward TV, search and digital video, according to an IAB report. Some digital media companies are building robust podcast operations that are main drivers of their business. The Ringer, helmed by Bill Simmons, has 28 podcasts and is reported to have done more than $15 million in revenue, mostly from podcast ads. Vox Media, which has a network of 75 podcast shows, also has an eight-figure podcasting business, according to Axios. The market for podcasts was recently validated by Spotify’s $340 million worth of deals to buy Gimlet, maker of popular podcasts, and podcast creation and hosting service Anchor.
“You’re seeing an acceleration of podcasts as a content medium; there’s way more awareness among consumers,” Nardini said. “Our ambitions in podcasts are very big.”
While podcasts are expanding into narrative formats, Barstool mostly sticks to a talk radio approach. Barstool podcasts typically has a small number of people on each podcast — for instance, there are four people on “Pardon My Take” including the two hosts — while the crew makes use of other parts of Barstool’s infrastructure including talent booking, promotions and merchandise. (The podcasts are separate from Barstool’s 12-hour live radio channel on Sirius, which consists of exclusive programming made for the channel.)
“We’re very talent-driven,” said Nardini. “[The podcast hosts] play an extremely active role in these podcasts. As a result, the podcasts are more personal, which is more compelling.”
In graphic detail: Publishers’ full year 2022 earnings
Looking back at 2022, the hits to publishers' revenue were partially staunched, but by the end of the year nearly all areas of the business felt the impact of the economic downturn.
‘It has to be built in’: How agencies strive to advance their diversity goals
There often is no blueprint for diversity in the corporate world, and many initiatives at media agencies have been works in progress over the last few years.
Publishers tout generative AI opportunities to save and make money amid rough media market
Generative AI technology will be an area of focus for some media companies this year as they work to cut costs and find new revenue opportunities amid a tough media market.
SponsoredBrands are optimizing video production to drive user acquisition
Sponsored by QuickFrame by MNTN With brands increasingly investing in video ads on social media, marketers are enhancing their video production capabilities to unlock growth on Facebook and Instagram. Especially urgent in an uncertain economic climate, brands must minimize production costs while creating a high enough volume of social media videos to identify the creative […]
Digiday+ Research: Video ads are a growing business for publishers large and small
Video advertising's potential rings most true among small publishers, while data points to video advertising already reaching its potential among large publishers — but also not, at the same time.
How The Guardian’s Luis Romero is selling the legacy U.K. publication in the U.S.
The Guardian U.S.'s Luis Romero is working to grow the U.K.-based publishers' ad business in North America while combating the pervasive brand safety problem facing all news publishers.