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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Sources: Don’t Expect a Barstool-MLB Streaming Deal

  • The Barstool-initiated talks didn't progress beyond the preliminary stage.
  • MLB has faced criticism in the days since news of a possible collaboration was reported.
Daniel Kucin Jr.-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks

Midweek Major League Baseball games won’t be streamed by Barstool Sports, at least any time soon.

The New York Post reported last week that a deal to stream non-exclusive MLB games had a “50-50” chance of going through, although two sources with knowledge of the talks told Front Office Sports that wasn’t the case. MLB executives didn’t strongly consider a collaboration when Barstool contacted the league’s front office and nothing has changed in the days since.

While there are multiple factors on why the deal wasn’t seriously considered, sources said the major one appears to be the blowback over an MLB collaboration with a brand that has been roundly criticized for misogynistic content and targeted online harassment.

Sportico reported Friday that league officials were “surprised to read the Post article” because the talks didn’t progress far. Still, MLB has not publicly said the deal wouldn’t happen, leaving the league open to criticism on social media and elsewhere. 

There have been no negotiations since the Post report last week, a source told Front Office Sports. Messages left with MLB and Barstool seeking comment were not returned. 

On Aug. 5, Barstool founder Dave Portnoy said the company discussed a broadcast deal with one of the four major sports leagues, days after the site inked a deal to sponsor and stream the Arizona Bowl. 

That deal, however, has already led the Pima County Board of Supervisors to withdraw nearly $40,000 in funding. 

Before the Aug 10. vote, the Arizona Daily Star reported that supervisors reviewed statements and tweets from Portnoy, including a May 2010 post in which he wrote, “Though I never condone rape, if you’re a Size 6 and wearing skinny jeans, you kind of deserve to be raped, right?”

Barstool’s controversial history aside, it would make sense for MLB to partner with a platform that has a younger audience. Only 14% of fans 18-34 surveyed consider themselves avid baseball fans, according to an April Statista survey. That’s lower than the NBA (24%), NFL (27%), and on par with the NHL.

Barstool would also potentially be attractive since it’s owned, in part, by Penn National Gaming, which uses Barstool branding for its online sportsbook that is expected to expand to 10 states by the end of the year. 

Penn National Gaming is already an authorized MLB gaming operator. The league also counts BetMGM and DraftKings as official gaming partners.

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