When the Chernin Group invested big money into Barstool Sports, taking a majority stake in the website, we knew it meant that the popular blog would be taking steps to expand its base. David Portnoy, fo under of the site, described the move as Barstool’s “best shot to literally take this thing to the moon,”in a blog post on the acquisition. As details of new horizons come out, we know that one potential avenue could be television.
More specifically, Barstool is trying to turn the Rundown, which currently exists in the form of a daily 20-30 minute show uploaded online and posted to their website, into a TV show. The Rundown works in its current format and it works well, but whether or not it will translate to conventional television remains a question.
First and foremost, part of what makes the Rundown (and Barstool as a whole) attractive to its viewers is its lack of political correctness. Barstool Sports has not shied away from controversy, a big reason they’ve been successful. If Barstool wants to put the Rundown on TV and maintain editorial control (one of the conditions of the deal with Chernin), their best shots are HBO and Fox Sports 1.
HBO is certainly a place that would give Barstool the freedom to say whatever it wants. HBO also has a great track record given its success producing shows for John Oliver, Bill Maher and Bryant Gumbel. And, most interestingly, HBO may be looking to beef up its sports coverage. Bill Simmons is set to begin a show there in the coming months and Barstool could be a part of that equation.
While they may not be given the daily forum they get online given that all of the shows mentioned above are weekly (except Real Sports, which is monthly), HBO would likely provide Barstool with security and the fact it is pay-cable would allow Barstool’s personalities to remain unedited. It is well known that Simmons and Barstool don’t get along, but both being on HBO doesn’t mean they have to work together.
Fox Sports 1 doesn’t just shy away from controversy, it wants controversy. With Jaime Horowitz installed as Fox Sports’ President of National Networks, FS1 is hoping to drive content by embracing debate, for which the Rundown is perfect. The daily Rundown is easy to watch and there’s chemistry between everyone on-screen. That makes it a perfect fit for FS1, which has struggled to get ratings with its current cast of characters and just shook up the format of Fox Sports Live to draw higher ratings. The Rundown would fit right in alongside Katie Nolan’s Garbage Time in that it is not strictly sports focused, but includes social commentary and humor.
Barstool is at this point for a reason. It’s built a huge audience from nothing and now has the backing of Peter Chernin, who has an extensive media background. It has all the capabilities to be a hit on television and, while there are roadblocks, don’t underestimate Barstool.