×

Listen: Barstool Sports CEO Learns From Digital Media’s Past Mistakes

Long before she became CEO of Barstool Sports, Erika Nardini had a front-row seat to the early days of the internet advertising world and she has no intention of repeating its errors.

Over a career that saw stops at AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and Demand Media, she watched as the digital powerhouses of yesteryear cluttered the web with enough programmatic promotion to send users running. And now that she has over 30 podcasts in play at Barstool, she wants to make sure this fast-growing medium doesn’t go ad crazy.

Listen to the podcast here:

“I have seen the big players in the business over the last 20 years, and we screwed up a lot of things about digital media,” said Nardini on the latest episode of the Variety podcast Strictly Business. “They’ll try to insert pre-produced, highly scalable dynamics ads that don’t require humans. I think that’s counter to the type of medium podcasting is right now.”

What hasn’t hurt Barstool’s booming ad business are the frequent controversies that seem to envelop the brash brand at every turn, including allegations of sexism and harassment aimed at company founder Dave Portnoy and his rabid fan base of “stoolies.” But Nardini nixed the notion Barstool deliberately courts controversy to get attention, even though she acknowledges it can bring benefits.

Popular on Variety

“Controversy isn’t the intention of Barstool Sports,” she said. “I would say the perception of controversy can be grossly exaggerated. That said, controversy doesn’t hurt us because it helps identify our base.”

Nardini also gives a preview of what will be big growth areas for Barstool in 2020, including a focus on sports betting and more branded merchandise.

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Past episodes include conversations with Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Dana Walden, co-head of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Television Group. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

More Digital

  • 100 Thieves

    Esports Organization 100 Thieves Unveils New Facility in Los Angeles

    As of Wednesday, popular esports organization 100 Thieves has an official home in Los Angeles. The group unveiled its new 15,000 square-foot facility, officially named the 100 Thieves Cash App Compound, in a media preview with some of its biggest personalities and investor Scooter Braun on hand. Also in attendance was Jack Dorsey, the CEO [...]

  • Amazon Music

    Amazon Music Tops 55 Million Users, Still Playing Catch-Up to Spotify and Apple

    Amazon is famously reluctant to release specific numbers about its users, so it’s notable that the e-retailing giant announced that it has surpassed 55 million customers worldwide for Amazon Music. The company didn’t reveal how many of those users are on its various pricing tiers, but said subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited grew by more [...]

  • The Crown Season 3 Oliva Colman

    Record Intl. Growth Sees Netflix Beat Q4 Earnings Forecast

    Fast growth in international markets, contrasting with only sluggish subscriber gains in North America, was a major factor behind streaming giant Netflix’s better than forecast growth in the last quarter of 2019. The company is set on keeping up that international momentum. Globally Netflix added 8.76 million new customers in the three months to December [...]

  • TikTok - LA lobby

    TikTok Opens New L.A. Office in Culver City

    TikTok, in a signal of the short-form video app’s growing clout and entertainment ambitions, announced the company’s Los Angeles operations have moved into a new 120,000-square-foot office in Culver City, Calif. TikTok’s new office space occupies five floors at the C3 campus at 5800 Bristol Parkway in Culver City. According to the company, the space [...]

  • SiriusXM president and CCO Scott Greenstein

    SiriusXM's Scott Greenstein Named Music Visionary of the Year by UJA-Federation

    SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein will be honored by the UJA-Federation of New York as its Music Visionary of the Year on June 4 in New York City. The award recognizes exceptional professional accomplishments and commitment to philanthropy. Previous recipients have included Sony Music Group CEO Rob Stringer, Republic Records co-founders Avery [...]

  • Anjelah Johnson'The Curse of La Llorona'

    HA Comedy Festival Sets Lineup, HBO Max Comedy Special

    The newly launched HA comedy festival backed by WarnerMedia and New Cadence Productions has set its dates, talent lineup and plans for a special to air on HBO Max. The festival, to be held Feb. 21-23 in San Antonio, Texas, is designed as a showcase for Latinx comedians. It’s part of a first-look development pact [...]

  • Marvel-Strike-Force-FoxNext

    Disney Sells FoxNext Games Unit to Scopely

    Disney has sold off FoxNext Games, the studio it obtained through the purchase of 20th Century Fox, to mobile-games developer Scopely. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Under the terms of the pact, Scopely is acquiring FoxNext Games Los Angeles, the game studio behind hit game “Marvel Strike Force,” and San Jose-based Cold Iron [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content