With Barstool Sportsbook sponsoring the fight, Barstool founder Dave Portnoy and Dan “Big Cat” Katz will appear regularly on the Aug. 29 broadcast, presenting betting analysis before each bout. The duo is also expected to play an integral role in the pre-fight weigh-in.
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The headline match pits Paul, a 3-0 boxer who made his name as an internet personality, against Tyron Woodley, a 39-year-old former UFC Champion. “Having seen how sports betting has been integrated across Jake’s events and more broadly combat sports, there was an opportunity to do something different, innovative and more integrated,” said Nakisa Bidarian, BAVAFA Sports CEO and Paul’s adviser. Bidarian and Paul are executive producers of the event, along with Showtime Sports.
Paul reportedly has a deal for multiple fights with Showtime, but the Barstool Sportsbook agreement only covers the Aug. 29 event. As part of the partnership, Barstool is also promoting the fight to its fanbase. It already has a partnership with Logan Paul, Jake’s brother.
Logan will be a guest commentator during the Showtime production, with Brian Custer hosting coverage. Mauro Ranallo and Al Bernstein will call the fights, while Ariel Helwani handles post-fight interviews. The show is being sold as a $60 pay-per-view.
Barstool Sportsbook, a Penn National Gaming app, currently takes wagers in six states. Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said he wants the Sportsbook app to be in the top three in market share in each state it operates in, and the company recently agreed to acquire Canadian sports information platform TheScore in a $2 billion deal to accelerate its customer acquisition.
Barstool leads the app’s marketing efforts, and has helped grow it in states like Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Barstool boasts over 100 million followers across its social channels, though the brand affiliation also regularly draws pushback. “The company has a history of disparaging treatment and harassment of women” is how The Washington Post put it in a recent report. The company’s controversies have been covered by Inside Edition and HBO’s Real Sports, and its employees have had credentials denied for NFL events. An ESPN show, Barstool Van Talk, was canceled after one week in 2017, in part due to previous comments made by Portnoy.
After Barstool signed up to sponsor this year’s Arizona Bowl, Barstool CEO Erika Nardini told Sportico, “It became clear our title sponsorship would have an implication on where the Arizona Bowl could be broadcast.”
Ultimately, Barstool agreed to air the game on its own platforms, as it continues to grow its media arm. In 2017, the company bought amateur boxing series Rough N Rowdy. At the time, Portnoy said: “It doesn’t matter if you like us, hate us, whatever. We speak directly to our own consumers.”
Now, Barstool will have a global audience on Showtime. Bidarian said Portnoy and Katz will offer a sense of familiarity to longtime Barstool followers during the show, while also recognizing the nature of the broadcast. “I don’t view it at all as a reputational risk,” Bidarian said of the partnership. “I view it as being innovative and ahead of the curve.”
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