Contradicting a previous report that said talks between Major League Baseball and Barstool Sports were getting hot and heavy, discussions between the two sides are “barely existent,” according to Sportico.
Following the original report, many media outlets (including this one) theorized that MLB airing some games on Barstool would be a bid to draw in and appeal to a younger audience. But a partnership with Dave Portnoy’s controversial media group would also potentially alienate some older, more traditional fans. According to Sportico, such speculation was all for nothing and it’s believed Barstool fed the story about the ongoing talks to the NY Post.
“Barstool called MLB because they knew these rights are on the block,” a source familiar with the dialogue between the two parties said, per Sportico. “MLB fielded the call. But it hasn’t gone further than that and likely won’t. In fact, MLB was surprised to read the Post article because the conversations are barely existent.”
Barstool publicizing the talks between the two sides, even if they aren’t going anywhere, is very on-brand and backs up founder Dave Portnoy’s previous statements that the company was having conversations with “major” players. “Do you know we’re talking with major leagues?” he previously said. “When I say major leagues, like the four major sports. Ever since we announced the Arizona Bowl, major leagues are like, ‘We can give you the rights. We can give you the rights to call one of the major four leagues games.’ Not gonna say which one. We’re looking at it.”
And even if Barstool “looked” at it and nothing came of it, just having conversations with MLB is good for business. (It may also be good for MLB’s bottom line as well.)
“For a company that courts publicity — good or bad — there is seemingly little downside to letting discussions with MLB be known,” per Sportico. “The affiliation helps to legitimize the Barstool Sports brand outside of their target demo and may make the company look to be more credible the next time they are pursuing a rights package.”
Neither MLB nor Barstool Sports commented about the talks … or lack thereof.