Influencers: The New Media
For those unaware of Barstool Sports, the website began in 2003 as a print publication which was distributed in the Boston metropolitan area and offered gambling advertisements and fantasy sports projections, but later expanded to encompass other topics. It launched on the Internet in 2007. In April 2014, AOL announced that it would be airing exclusive online content from Barstool Sports.
Fast forward to 2016, and founder Dave Portnoy sold the website to Penn Entertainment, the largest and most diverse gaming footprint in North America. The gambling company took a 36% stake of Barstool Sports in February 2020 for about $163 million and subsequently acquired the remainder of the company for about $388 million in February 2023.
Influences are the new media
Fast forward to August 2023, Penn sold 100% of the outstanding shares of Barstool to founder Portnoy in exchange for a nominal cash consideration of $1.
Penn said in the filing that the deal with Portnoy for Barstool will result in a “pre-tax non-cash loss” of between $800 million and $850 million — inclusive of $705 million to $720 million in goodwill and intangible assets write-offs — related to disposal of the business, to be incurred in the third quarter of 2023.
Barstool Sports is the latest example underlining the fact that influencers however you define them - celebrities, sports people, TikToker or Instagrammers - are the new media. You take away the persona, you take away the value..
The same could be applied to Fox News without Tucker Carlson. Could you imagine The Joe Rogan Show without Joe Rogan?
Sure, ESPN is still worth much more money than Barstool Sports. But for how long?
I’m long influencer-based media.