With Barstool poised to enter its second decade, Portnoy is plotting his own move into broadcasting:
The company is mulling an offer from an unnamed local Boston TV station to launch a Barstool-branded series. Portnoy, however, is concerned about signing away his rights to any future Barstool TV efforts, and as of this writing, the contract remained unsigned.
The proposed Barstool series would essentially expand on "The Bro Show," documenting the blogger team's exploits as they travel across the country, mixing it up with celebrities and exploring America's bizarro underbelly. Previous "Bro Show" webisodes have featured Portnoy visiting the annual American Gerbil Society show, fielding kicks from former New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko and tending goal against Toronto Maple Leafs left winger James van Riemsdyk. ("El Pres definitely doesn't have a problem shooting off his mouth," van Riemsdyk says.)
Video segments like "The Bro Show" signal the future of Barstool Sports, Portnoy says. A July episode pitting Barstool against Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in a Wiffle-ball home-run derby generated 40,000 views in its first week online--not a huge number, Portnoy admits, but Stoolies spent more than 400,000 minutes watching the episode. "That's 63 percent audience retention for a 20-minute video," he boasts. "Our people watch everything. The time people spend on the site and the time they spend watching videos is what separates us. That's the Barstool difference."
With copycat sites like BroBible and Guyism aping Barstool's attitude and subject matter, video will continue to keep the competition at bay, Portnoy believes. "When we started there weren't any other 'bro blogs.' It was just us. Now there's so many people doing what we do--the same exact thing," he says. "We want to stay ahead of everybody else, and video is a natural. You don't see other blogs or people making the videos we're making, because I don't think they can. No one can do what we do."
Regardless of whether cable networks and advertisers ever come calling, Barstool Sports will continue evolving. But Portnoy is adamant that it will never change.
"If for whatever reason we needed money, we have two choices: We gotta conform, or readers gotta start giving us money. Our readers would say, 'You're not conforming. Stay how you are.' And we'd make more [money] than ever," Portnoy says. "Everything has an agenda, but we're totally unfiltered. It's the real thing--and people love it."
Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.