Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports, defended the quick cancellation of her brand’s show with ESPN, Barstool Van Talk, at the Sports Marketing Symposium in New York City on Wednesday.

The show, which was based on an internet series from Barstool Sports, aired once on ESPN in its Tuesday 1 a.m. time slot and was cancelled the following day.

Said ESPN President John Skipper in a statement at the time: “While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content.”

“Barstool is infinitely not censored and it is not for everyone,” Nardini said on the panel. “The main takeaway from where we have been and where we are going, particularly in today’s day and age, is to have a place where we can talk about meaningful and important issues.”

“About eight months ago, ESPN contacted us about creating content together and we created a show called Barstool Van Talk that was scheduled to run Tuesday nights at 1 a.m. and has created a lot of controversy, obviously,” said Nardini. “Barstool is a brand that is from the internet, and I guess they felt it just didn’t click for them.”

Nardini’s comments were part of a panel that discussed the acceleration of live and social platforms, with featured panelists Jason Coyle, CEO, Stadium; Jaymee Messler, president, The Players’ Tribune; and Nardini.

Barstool diversifies its content by providing lots of video, launching a podcast network, and turning one of its stories into a feature film, said Nardini.

“Our focus remains on continuing to connect the fans with the athletes in a way that is really authentic,” she said. “Our voice is real, not watered down, and I think that is very obvious.”

Chicago-based Stadium, a multi-platform national sports network launched earlier this year by a merging of assets from 120 Sports, Silver Chalice’s Campus Insiders and the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s American Sports Network, has partnered with Facebook for exclusive broadcasts of college football games and brings live streamed sports to Twitter.

“We have full distribution rights on all television platforms and all social and all digital platforms,” said Jason Coyle. “We have created a brand new paradigm, not just through distribution but through the way we approach content. In some ways we look very familiar, but through our digital extensions we are going to be able to promise and deliver more reach than any other sports network. And because of that, our audience tends to be very young.”

The Players’ Tribune, founded by former professional baseball player Derek Jeter, offers a digital platform where over 1,500 athletes contributes with a variety of different content.

“For us, the goal is to build a company for athletes by athletes,” said Messler. “We probably have one of the largest female audiences when it comes to sports sites because we are bringing the humanity to a lot of the athletes and a lot of the stories. Each topic is different, but it always starts with a conversation.”

[Cube image courtesy of Marc Berman; large content image of Barstool Van Talk courtesy of]


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