Barstool Sports to broadcast first-ever Korn Ferry Tour event
The PGA Tour is coming to … Barstool?
On Tuesday morning, Barstool Sports’ “Fore Play” podcast announced that it will carry live streaming coverage of the Korn Ferry Tour’s NV5 Invitational July 27-30 — the first PGA Tour-affiliated event to reach an official partnership with the sports media giant. Per the agreement, Barstool will carry three hours of uninterrupted coverage each tournament day from the Chicago-based event on its streaming platform, Barstool.TV.
“This is clearly somewhere that Barstool Sports has been going in the last year,” said Sam “Riggs” Bozoian, a “Fore Play” host who will also be serving as a broadcaster during the tournament coverage alongside host Jake Marsh and a stable of to-be-determined guests.
“We wished we could watch more Korn Ferry Tour and understand the stories better,” he said. “So we’re just doing it.”
The announcement marks the latest in a stretch of moves that brings Barstool closer to the world of live sports streaming, a potential bell cow for the Barstool business. Earlier this year, the company sponsored (and streamed) its first-ever college football bowl game, the Arizona Bowl, adding to a repertoire of live coverage that includes college basketball, hockey and the company’s own pay-per-view boxing events.
In the Korn Ferry Tour, Barstool finds the ideal partner: a sports entity that doesn’t receive much media exposure, and is eager to expand its growth and reach among casual sports fans. The two properties stand to benefit greatly from one another — the KFT in terms of reach and intrigue; Barstool in terms of streaming legitimacy and variety. It remains to be seen whether the NV5 represents a one-off or the first of a series of Barstool-produced streams, though people briefed on the matter said that no other tournaments have been discussed for now.
Streaming represents a lucrative bet for Barstool with advertisers and sponsors, most of whom are willing to pay more per video impression than for podcast or digital. The company has been rumored in talks for streaming agreements with major professional sports leagues over the years, but more recently has focused its energy on the individual event level.
The biggest question facing Barstool’s streaming coverage is whether it is capable of generating large enough audiences to challenge traditional sports broadcasters. The Arizona Bowl drew some 1 billion impressions and 130,000 concurrent viewers — gaudy numbers by most digital standards — but remained the least-watched iteration of the event since at least 2015, the Sports Business Journal reported. Of course, Barstool might not need to generate linear TV-sized audiences to see its foray into streaming as a successful or profitable endeavor, but the viewership gap from most establishment broadcasters remains noteworthy.
The Korn Ferry Tour, which is owned by the PGA Tour, represents golf’s biggest feeder tour, routinely sending players to the highest ranks of the pro game. While viewer intrigue remains relatively sparse — the KFT receives only a handful of nationally televised broadcast hours per year — Barstool’s bet is that by investing at the lower levels, it can spur interest and spark relationships with some of the sport’s best up-and-comers.
In recent months, the PGA Tour has earned an increasingly chummy relationship with Barstool, which has an agreement to outfit merchandise for some of the Tour’s biggest events. The company’s stable of young male followers remains a coveted demographic to the Tour, particularly in the throes of its turf battle with LIV Golf.
Still, it will be a long time, if ever, before Barstool threatens to bring its streaming coverage to the big tour. The PGA Tour’s streaming rights are locked up in a $75 million/year agreement with ESPN through at least 2030.