Hitt, T. (2021, September 23). Barstool: Saturdays are for our new Food Delivery Service and branded pizza product 🙂. Gawker. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.gawker.com/media/barstool-saturdays-are-for-our-new-food-delivery-service-branded-pizza-product.
Barstool Sports, a website that distilled the essence of Greater Boston into a single slogan about which day is for the boys, has a new venture: food delivery. According to AdWeek, “The publisher…plans to enter the food-delivery industry, in a venture it calls Barstool Bites.”
The sports blog, which has never done anything gross to food so it’s weird if anyone said that, has partnered with “Virtual Dining Concepts,” a thoughtfully named company that produces delicious treats in ghost kitchens. Now, Stoolies don’t even need to go to bars. They can get their “gameday fare like chicken wings, sliders and fries” delivered straight to their dad’s girlfriend’s home, provided they live near Barstool Bites’ “300 market partners in cities nationwide.”
Barstool expands into food, with a frozen pizza and a home delivery business. Insideradio.com. (2021, September 23). Retrieved October 4, 2021, from http://www.insideradio.com/free/barstool-expands-into-food-with-a-frozen-pizza-and-a-home-delivery-business/article_ad67fbec-1cb1-11ec-80da-b3e9e28d0c62.html.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy is already known for his One Bite Pizza Reviews series on YouTube, and now his sports and lifestyle media brand is branching out beyond podcasts, TV and sports forging deeper into the world of food. Barstool is teaming up with Happi Foodi to launch the One Bite Frozen Pizza. The pizza will be available in Wal-Mart stores across the U.S.
“I’m taking over the frozen game,” said Portnoy in a video about the product launch. His review of their product delivered a 10 out of 10 rating.
Barstool Sports is also teaming up with Virtual Dining Concepts to join the food delivery business. Barstool Bites will be a delivery-only restaurant, offering a lineup of items including chicken wings, sliders, 14-inch subs, buckets of popcorn and fries. In other words, food someone might consume while watching a game.
Barstool Bites will be available in 300 cities nationwide. Virtual Dining Concepts relies on so-called “ghost kitchens” that use local restaurants to pack and deliver food using third-party apps like DoorDash and Grubhub for various brands.
Barstool Bites may also be expanding into physical restaurants and Barstool food trucks. “We’re going to experiment with giving our fans the ability to order the types of food we eat when we’re sitting on our couch watching football on Saturdays and Sundays,” CEO Erika Nardini told Bloomberg.
The delivery-only restaurant model has taken off during the pandemic. NPD Group says from June 2020 to June 2021, delivery-only restaurant orders increased by two-thirds. That compares to a 39% decline for in-restaurant dining. Bloomberg notes the industry is already crowded since they allow entrepreneurs to launch a restaurant without the large investment a physical location requires.
Food ventures are the latest in brand extensions for Barstool. It has also signed a multiyear branding rights deal with the Arizona Bowl. The move means the Dec. 31 game will air on Barstool platforms, not broadcast television. Barstool is also expanding its Barstool Golf Classic brand.
On the content side, earlier this month Barstool said it would create a new channel on the streaming television service Sling TV. The Barstool Sports Channel will feature a mix of sports and pop culture content including video versions of several podcasts. Barstool is reportedly developing several reality television series.
One thing Barstool talks less about these days is podcasting, although it remains a force in the audio industry. Barstool has 65 active shows which Podtrac said had a reach of 6.2 million listeners during August with downloads and streams topping 28 million. But those numbers are down significantly after Call Her Daddy defected to Spotify with an exclusive distribution deal that began June 1. Portnoy said the loss of the show will hurt the company’s bottom line since it was by far the biggest podcast revenue generator for the company. He also said they are looking at trimming some expenses as a result of losing the series.
Since launching in 2003, Barstool Sports has expanded from a website to podcasts and videos. Since casino operator Penn National Gaming bought a 36% share in the company in January 2020, Barstool has also put an increased emphasis on sports betting across its platform.
McCarthy, M. (2021, September 22). Fast-growing barstool on pace to crack $200 million in revenue. Front Office Sports. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://frontofficesports.com/barstool-sports-erika-nardini-growth/.
Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini predicts the company will grow to over $200 million in revenue by early 2022 — up from $150 million last year.
As Barstool expands into virtual dining, frozen pizza, and sports media rights, the brand is evolving from brazen disruptor to ubiquitous player that’s now “everywhere” in the sports ecosphere.
That will be the digital media brand’s message Wednesday during its upfront presentation to ad agencies.
Barstool’s revenue grew 57% to $150 million in 2020. If the company surpasses $200 million by the end of 2021, that would represent a roughly 33% increase.
It would be double the $100 million in revenue it generated back in January, 2020, when Penn National acquired a 36% stake in Barstool for $163 million in cash and stock.
The deal valued Barstool at $450 million.
The rowdy upstart has feuded with the biggest names in sports, from the NFL to ESPN. It also boasts 135 million followers on social media, and its sports and pop culture content generates 1.6 billion monthly video views.
Also notable is the fact that more than half of Barstool’s audience is under 30 years old; a third are female. It boasts the No. 1 sports podcast in America with the humorous “Pardon My Take.”
As Barstool transforms into an entertainment/lifestyle brand, it is forging partnerships with Fortune 500 giants like Walmart that might have looked down their noses at its sometimes notorious past.
“I really believe Barstool is everywhere. There isn’t a category that we haven’t disrupted,” Nardini said. “Whether it’s finance, sports, lifestyle, entertainment, military, parenting. We’ve really disrupted so many great categories. We create content that is funnier, smarter, sharper, shorter, more dynamic than most anybody else out there. That’s the reason our brand and our company are growing so quickly. That’s the reason we perform so well for our advertising partners.”
Entering Wednesday’s upfront, Nardini believes Barstool has a strong story to sell:
Barstool Bites: Jumping on the “ghost kitchen” trend, Barstool will launch its own “virtual dining experience” in October. The company will team with hundreds of restaurants to offer a “Barstool Bites” menu, including chicken wings, sandwiches, chips and “game buckets,” deliverable to your home.
With Barstool Bites, the company hopes to do for “couch food” what it did for vodkas with its Pink Whitney brand. Barstool wants to “bring its content, our products and our brands to our fans — no matter where they are,” she said.
One Bite: Founder Dave Portnoy’s new frozen pizza line will hit 3,600 Walmart stores at the end of September. The global frozen pizza market reached $14.5 billion in sales, according to IMARC Group, and is predicted to grow at a rate of 6.8% between 2021 and 2026.
Barstool Arizona Bowl: On Dec. 31, the company will not only title sponsor the Arizona Bowl but stream it across its platforms. Look for Portnoy and Dan “Big Cat” Katz to serve as analysts while Barstool brings in a play-by-play announcer to steer the game telecast from Tucson.
Barstool’s selection sparked a backlash from the Pima County Board of Supervisors. which voted 4-1 to withdraw nearly $40,000 in funding from the bowl due to Portnoy’s history of “inflammatory statements and tweets.”
Barstool was recently named a bidder to stream a package of midweek MLB games. It seems to only be a matter of time before a league sells rights to Barstool. The Arizona Bowl approached Barstool, Nardini said, not the other way around.
“Sports and teams are really looking for a couple things. They’re looking for viewers and young fans — and we have both of those.”
New talent: Over the last year, big names such as Deion Sanders and David Oritz signed with Barstool. At the upfront, Barstool will tout new hires such as TikTok stars Alex Bennett and her mother Kim as well as sports betting personalities “Megan Makin’ Money” and “Kelly in Vegas.”
Sports Books: Barstool’s online sports book is now live in nine states (New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, and Colorado).
Branded Bars: Barstool is planning to open its first stand-alone, branded sports bars in Chicago and Philadelphia this year.
Super Bowl: Despite its feud with the NFL, Barstool’s planning a party and other live events in Los Angeles before Super Bowl LVI.
The controversial brand has come a long way. Nearly four years ago ESPN cancelled “Barstool Van Talk” after one episode due to Portnoy’s offensive comments about ESPN talents. The feud between Portnoy and the NFL came to a head with “El Presidente ” physically ejected from Super Bowl LIII in 2019.
Barstool recently launched an exclusive channel on the SLING TV streaming service. But Nardini doesn’t seem them doing another cable TV show: “You’ll see us do streaming. You’ll see us doing our own broadcasting.”
The media industry is still recovering from billions lost during the sports shutdown. Barstool’s ability to reach young consumers is opening doors previously closed along Madison Avenue.
Since 2016, the number of Barstool advertisers has grown from fewer than 10 to over 300. They include Chevrolet, Pepsi and Verizon.
“The world is opening up for us,” said Nardini.“We’ve gotten to a big enough scale where someone like Walmart says, ‘Hey, we want to sell more pizza. We want 22-year olds to come into Walmart.’ So what’s the best brand to work with if you want a 22-year old to come into Walmart? I think that’s us.”
Stenberg, M. (2021, September 23). Barstool Sports is expanding into food delivery. Adweek. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.adweek.com/media/barstool-sports-is-expanding-into-food-delivery-with-barstool-bites/.
Barstool Sports has made its entrée into the world of food.
The publisher is pushing into the CPG and food-delivery industries, as well as launching the “World Cup of women’s hockey,” the Barstool Hockey Cup, CEO Erika Nardini said in an upfront presentation Wednesday night.
Barstool will be unveiling a branded pizza product, called One Bite Frozen Pizza, in partnership with Happi Foodi beginning Sept. 28, a foray informed by founder Dave Portnoy’s low-fidelity YouTube series, One Bite Pizza Reviews. At launch, the product will have four different varieties and be available in 3,600 Walmarts nationwide.
The publisher also plans to enter the food-delivery industry, in a venture it calls Barstool Bites. To tackle the logistics, Barstool will partner with Virtual Dining Concepts, a restaurant empire of delivery-only brands produced in ghost kitchens. At launch, Barstool Bites will have 300 market partners in cities nationwide, and the menu, which was crafted in collaboration with prominent figures in the Stoolie extended universe, will cater to sports fans hungry for gameday fare like chicken wings, sliders and fries.
The Barstool Hockey Cup, the publisher’s second push into live sports behind its recently announced sponsorship of the Arizona Bowl, will pit women’s hockey teams from Canada, the U.S. and Europe against one another for a weeklong tournament. The venture will be exclusively run by women at Barstool Sports, Nardini said.
Since its inception in 2003, Barstool has proven eager to evolve beyond the scope of a traditional sports media company. Last January the publisher sold a 36% ownership stake to casino operator Penn National Gaming for $163 million in cash and stock, and its expansive podcast network, combined with revenue from merchandise and gambling deals, helped it generate between $90-$100 million in revenue in 2019.
“Barstool is bigger than ever, I would say it’s hotter than ever and there isn’t really a category that we haven’t disrupted, except for live,” Nardini told Adweek.
The announcement of these new ventures, as well as the expansion of its existing ones, comes amidst a rapidly shifting sports media landscape. The legalization of online sports-betting in 2018 has prompted publishers like Sports Illustrated to form lucrative partnerships with gambling operations, while others like The Athletic, Gannett and FOS have shown the viability of paywalling sports content.
Barstool, despite its checkered history of misogyny, homophobia and racism, has cultivated such a strong brand identity that its business eludes easy categorization, allowing the publisher to expand into industries unavailable to more traditional sports publications. For publishers with loyal brand followings, like BuzzFeed and soon Vox Media, licensing has become a growing source of revenue.
In addition to its new offerings, Barstool also announced a handful of expansions to its existing ventures.
Barstool signed a multiyear branding rights deal with the Arizona Bowl in July, and the publisher has been building out programming around the Dec. 31 game, which will feature teams from the Mountain West and Mid-American conferences. The game, in a steep departure from tradition, will air online on Barstool platforms rather than cable television. It has also attracted controversy, prompting the Pima County Board of Supervisors to vote to withdraw $40,000 of funding from the game.
“This will be our first foray into broadcast, and it will be on social, it will be physical, it will be experiential in Tucson and it will be viral,” Nardini said.
The publisher is also expanding its Barstool Golf Classic by adding new cities and several new sponsors, and it hopes to attract up to 3,000 golfers this year, according to a spokesperson for the company.
On the editorial front, Barstool will be developing a handful of reality television shows that more mirror the standard format of the genre. For years, Barstool personalities have interacted on social media and platforms like YouTube, in series like Barstool vs. America and Surviving Barstool. The company plans to formalize the series and expand them.
Barstool is also bringing in new female talent to anchor several series slated to premiere in 2022. The publisher has hired the TikTok-famous mother-daughter duo Kim and Alex Bennett, as well as two gambling personalities, Megan Nunez of Megan Making Money and Kelly Stewart of Kelly in Vegas.
In July, Barstool lost one of its most lucrative podcasts when the (now lone) host of Call Her Daddy, Alex Cooper, left the publisher for Spotify, in a $60 million, three-year deal. In June, on an episode of his podcast The Dave Portnoy Show With Eddie & Co., Portnoy said he was “pretty happy with how all this shook out.”
Palmeri, C. (2021, September 22). ‘ghost kitchens’ feed into post-Covid eatertainment trend. BusinessLIVE. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/2021-09-22-ghost-kitchens-feed-into-post-covid-eatertainment-trend/.
Dave Portnoy, founder of the pop culture site Barstool Sports, has a talent for shape shifting.
In the last year alone, the 44-year-old internet celebrity has alternated between conservative hero, meme-stock evangelist and small business saviour, all while maintaining his day job as a podcast host and hard-to-please reviewer of pizza places. “This is like a faucet of grease,” he memorably described one slice.
Now, add aspiring food mogul to the list. After announcing a new frozen pizza line with Walmart earlier this month, the self-described Stool Presidente is also jumping in on the virtual “ghost kitchen” trend, assembling an army of independent restaurants to deliver peak bro food to his legions of fans. To do so he is partnering with eatertainment pioneer and Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl to launch a virtual restaurant concept built around the Barstool brand.
Barstool Bites, which will debut in October, plans to offer sandwiches, super spicy chicken wings, dips and buckets of flavoured popcorn to the same hard-core sports buffs who gobble up Barstool’s always irreverent, sometimes sophomoric commentary. There’s more in store, including physical restaurants and Barstool food trucks, which are promoting the brand.
“We’re going to experiment with giving our fans the ability to order the types of food we eat when we’re sitting on our couch watching footballs on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Erika Nardini, Barstool’s CEO.
The New York-based media company, which Portnoy founded in 2003, has expanded from blogging to videos and podcasts that have won it 135-million social media followers. Last year he sold 36% of the company to casino operator Penn National Gaming for $163m. Barstool has since launched an online betting business and an electrolyte-spiked drink designed to address hangovers — all of which can be promoted by the company’s online hosts on programmes such as Pardon My Take and Spittin Chiclets.
“They do like 80 shows a week,” Earl said of his new partner. “All these podcasters are having dishes named after them and they’re all going to be constantly talking about them.”
Barstool Bites will follow the ghost kitchen playbook, shunning expensive physical locations for what may ultimately be hundreds of local restaurants that prepare Barstool’s food, then deliver it via third-party apps like DoorDash and GrubHub. The virtual dining brand is the latest entry into an already crowded field that has everyone from restaurant chains like Applebee’s, Chuck E Cheese, and Nathan’s to former Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick chasing the delivery-only business.
Though digital eateries have been around for several years, the concept took off during the pandemic, when many restaurants had to stop serving indoors and left kitchen space idle for other uses. An opening rose for entrepreneurs to launch restaurant concepts almost overnight, without the investment in real estate, kitchen gear, staff and other expenses that can easily run up to $375,000 for each physical location. Instead, they could spin up a new digital storefront built around a narrow food offering and a search engine-optimised brand name.In the 12 months to June, delivery-only restaurant orders in the US jumped 66%, while on-premises dining fell 39%, according to market researcher NPD Group. Uber’s delivery revenue more than doubled from 2020 to $1.96bn in the second quarter. That business, much of which is food, was bolstered by the acquisition of Postmates.
Sterling Douglass, CEO of restaurant technology supplier Chowly, estimates that there are nearly 100,000 virtual restaurants already in the US. Euromonitor International figures sales from ghost kitchens could reach $1-trillion globally by 2030.
Going all-in on the trend is Earl, a 70-year-old UK native who got his start promoting dinner shows in London with sword fights and six-course meals consumed with a dagger. He ran the Hard Rock Cafes in the 1980s, before founding Planet Hollywood the following decade, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Demi Moore as early spokespeople. The chain expanded too rapidly though, and declared bankruptcy twice.
He still owns restaurants, such as the Buca di Bepo brand, but he has recently recast himself as a ghost kitchen mogul. Earl said he began to think seriously about the delivery business early into the pandemic after seeing sales decline in his traditional restaurants, many of which are based in malls where foot-traffic plummeted.
Earl’s year-old, Orlando, Florida-based company, Virtual Dining Concepts, channels his eatertainment roots, with kitchen concepts often built around celebrities who can generate free publicity or have a vibrant social media following. He has launched brands with singer Mariah Carey (Mariah’s Cookies), Saved by the Bell star Mario Lopez (Mario’s Tortas Lopez), and Jersey Shore character Pauly DelVecchio Jr. (Pauly D’s Italian Subs). The deals are a 50/50 partnership with the celebrities he works with, under which they share the profits.
Earl’s breakout hit is MrBeast Burger, a concept launched in December with YouTube personality Jimmy Donaldson, who is famous for stunts like giving away 40 cars to his 40 millionth subscriber. Earl said the pair have sold one million of the $7.50 burgers so far. The brand now has almost 1,000 kitchens from Bangor, Maine, to Honolulu, preparing its food, with another 1,000 to come. “Which I think makes it by far the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the world,” Earl said.
Also benefiting from the trend are some of the restaurants hit hardest by the pandemic. Marylisa Carrier and her husband, Robert, were just weeks away from shuttering their Sparks, Nevada, burger joint in 2020 when they got a call from a salesperson pitching Earl’s Virtual Dining. The Carriers were told they could generate $200 a day in revenue from MrBeast. Instead, receipts have been triple that. The Carrier’s restaurant, Sizl Burger, retains about 67% of the average $25 order. It has allowed the couple to keep their business open and even consider expanding. “It’s been a huge, huge thing for us,” Marylisa Carrier said.
There are risks that come with the surge in virtual dining, however. One is trying to control quality when the food is prepared by hundreds of independent operators scattered all over the country. It’s also unclear whether the restaurants will lose interest in virtual brands when the pandemic subsides and their kitchens become busy with in-person diners.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen when the guests show up again,” said Greg Golkin, an investor in restaurant businesses through his Kitchen Fund in New York. “A lot of these orders are coming out of the back of an Irish pub.”
Already Barstool employees have gone online to rate their boss’s frozen pizza. No surprise though, they’re not very critical. Portnoy gave himself a 10 out of 10.