Maybe the report about MLB negotiating with Barstool Sports was a trial balloon after all.
Last week, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand dropped some major media news: MLB and Barstool were in discussions about streaming mid-week games on Barstool’s platforms. The article said the agreement had a “50-50” chance at becoming finalized.
But new reporting pushes back against that narrative. MLB never seriously considered a partnership with Barstool, according to A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports. He cites two sources with “knowledge of the talks.”
On Friday, Sportico reported MLB officials were “surprised” at the Post article. Perez also says there been no negotiations between Barstool and MLB since last week.
When the possible partnership was revealed, MLB received immense blowback from some fans and media members, citing Barstool’s history of lewd and misogynistic content. Apparently, that was one of the main reasons why MLB executives became tepid about a deal.
“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,” Perez writes.
There’s no denying Barstool’s reach. The popular sports-and-smut website is omnipresent on college campuses, as a whopping 67% of their users are under the age of 30. That is a demographic goldmine for baseball, whose average viewer is 57.
Earlier this summer, Barstool announced it will sponsor and stream the Arizona Bowl.
While MLB’s attraction to Barstool is understandable, there are other platforms with which it can partner that don’t come with PR baggage. MLB already has a deal with YouTube TV, and could expand to other streaming services.
But none of them possess Barstool’s built-in promotional machine. That’s what MLB would lose without a Barstool deal.
Apparently, league executives think that’s a digestible trade-off.