Dave Portnoy lost control of Barstool Sports for a season, but he’s back and faster than ever.
He has been facing corporate censorship pressure from the likes of YouTube and others, and he’s held firm on that commitment even when it threatened the company’s bottom line.
But with this one move, Dave Portnoy might end YouTube’s idiotic censorship policies.
Barstool vs. YouTube
Back in November, just after Black Friday, Barstool Sports began releasing episodes of the latest season of Surviving Barstool – the company’s version of a Survivor-esque reality show – to the company’s YouTube channel.
With Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, as well as other Barstool stars like Dan Katz, Kevin Clancy, and Kirk Minihane, all competing for the $100,000 cash prize – and, more importantly, bragging rights – the show was an instant hit with the company’s massive fan base, and even began garnering attention outside the Barstool bubble as each of the first three episodes raked in hundreds of thousands of views within the first 24 hours of being posted.
While the hundreds of thousands of viewers who enjoyed the show understood that it was essentially a comedy spoof of Survivor and not real life, YouTube didn’t see it the same way.
And after Minihane jokingly quipped that he would “blow up” host Jeff D. Lowe’s house over an in-game dispute – a comment both quickly joked about due to its sheer absurdity – YouTube demanded that Barstool censor the content or risk having their channel permanently banned from the platform.
But despite the fact that losing their YouTube channel would have been a devastating blow to a digital media company like Barstool Sports’ revenue, Portnoy refused to censor the content in the name of free speech.
“Listen, I’m not changing the f**king episodes,” Portnoy declared in his “Emergency Press Conference” at the time. “I know what’s coming – if they need us to edit that, you’ve got to edit a bunch of s**t – no, no, no. This is Barstool; we’re doing it our f**king way. F**k YouTube if they’re not smart enough to actually watch a reality show and realize what’s going on.”
Portnoy is ready to Rumble
Portnoy ultimately chose to simply air the series on Barstool’s own platform but made clear that he was in the process of finding a platform where the company could freely post its content without the threat of censorship.
And now, he’s found the right partner to help continue moving Barstool forward while protecting free speech – Rumble.
In an announcement that had Wall Street abuzz, Rumble announced that it had agreed to a deal to become the preferred home of Barstool Sports’ video content.
“The partnership with Barstool Sports is a major step in pursuit of our mission to continue building a portfolio of widely popular sports and entertainment content,” Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski wrote in a statement. “Rumble is quickly emerging as a leading platform for the under-30 demographic, and we’re excited for Barstool Sports to be a significant part of our rapid growth.”
For his part, Portnoy added that “with the power of Barstool Sports, we are going to help Rumble be the top player in the video, cloud, and live streaming space.”
Within 24 hours of the announcement, the pro-free speech video platform saw its stock price climb over 60%, hitting a four-month high and adding a total of what Bloomberg reported was more than $500 million to the company’s overall value.
But this wasn’t simply a typical content deal through which a network or platform gives a company or individual content creator a cash payment to produce content they can distribute.
“He didn’t come for the bag…”
In an interview on entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David’s PBD Podcast, Pavlovski revealed that Portnoy chose to forgo a cash deal in exchange for Barstool acquiring equity in Rumble, once again putting his money where his mouth is in regard to his commitment to free speech.
“Here’s the big thing – my favorite thing, I think it’s the best thing, the biggest thing – is he didn’t come for the bag,” Pavlovski said in reference to Portnoy forging the cash payment. “He came for the equity. So, Dave Portnoy now owns part of Rumble. The deal was structured with equity – mostly equity, with a little bit of cash.”
“So for me, that’s super exciting because he believes in this company, he believes in Rumble, he believes in the idea of creating competition in the market, and we need somebody like Dave to get behind Rumble,” he added. “I think that’s key for us.”
Rumble has seen massive growth in recent years, including a more than 250% year-over-year increase in its revenue for the 2023 fiscal year.
Adding a company like Barstool – not to mention Portnoy, who has repeatedly proven to be one of the best, most effective, and successful marketers of the Internet age – to its growing list of content and creators will only add fuel to Rumble’s fire, too.
And as the pro-free speech alternative to YouTube, that will only result in more significant advancements in the fight against censorship.
Read All About It will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.