October 4, 2023


An Interactive Session

Barstool Sports swings into PGA Tour merch

8 min read


Tonight in Unpacks: The PGA Tour is breaking new ground with its collaboration with Barstool Sports, and patrons at The Players Championship will get a close-up look. SBJ’s Wes Sanderson has the details.

Other headlines:

  • Streaming a key component in FanDuel’s betting deal with MLB 
  • Vikings top of the class in NFLPA survey of working conditions
  • OnePlan raises $6 million for its live event and planning platform
  • Feedback a key component of Merrell Test Lab’s innovative shoes
  • Throwback Thursday: ‘Don’t give up … don’t ever give up’
  • MLB pairing players with sponsor pitches for the first time
  • Nobull shows NFL Scouting Combine how to level up workout tech
  • Op-ed: Keys to unlocking the power of esports fans

In this morning’s Buzzcast, SBJ’s Abe Madkour takes on:

  • NFLPA survey on teams and their working conditions
  • Charlie Baker’s to-do list as NCAA president
  • ESPN’s major reorganization
  • The Braves’ big revenue numbers
  • Significant changes coming for the PGA Tour in 2024
  • Aflac growing its GOAT campaign with Dawn Staley
  • MSG hiring Chris Overholt as SVP/global partnerships 

Barstool Sports’ golf brand is hitting the PGA Tour’s merchandise tents this season for select events, reports SBJ’s Wes Sanderson.

PGA Tour Director of Merchandising Lea Osol tells SBJ this was the first time that the PGA Tour Fan Shop has “collaborated on co-branded, custom apparel with an influencer brand.” It will do this for various PGA Tour events this season.

Barstool’s first co-branded line was released last month around the WM Phoenix Open, and its second line dropped this week at TPC Sawgrass ahead of The Players Championship.

Fans in attendance will be able to find a mix of custom Barstool-Players Championship-branded polos, tees, headwear and accessories. Fans may also purchase items online through Fanatics’ PGA Tour Fan Shop. Barstool personality Frankie Borrelli said on the “KFC Radio” podcast this week that the brand’s first line in Phoenix was “the No. 1-selling brand for the first day” of the tournament week.

Osol added Barstool’s listeners and viewers are “already core fans of the PGA Tour, our players and our events,” making them a “natural collaborator.” She said the PGA Tour has other co-branded lines set up with brands like Peter Millar, Johnnie-O, Greyson, Vineyard Vines and Swag Golf.

As of Thursday, Osol told SBJ there are “already several sold out styles of Players-Barstool Golf custom apparel on PGATourFanShop.com. Along with its Players Championship line, Osol said Barstool is also “working on cobranded apparel with them for the FedExCup Playoffs and Tour Championship.”

The Players Championship will be Barstool’s second collaboration with the Tour this season

FanDuel will be able to stream MLB.TV’s daily “Free Game of the Day” in its sportsbook app and on its FanDuel+ OTT platform as part of a new deal that makes it the league’s co-exclusive sports betting sponsor, reports SBJ’s Bill King.

FanDuel joins BetMGM, replacing long-time MLB sponsor DraftKings. It has been an MLB-authorized gaming operator since 2019. MLB’s ties to DraftKings date back to 2013, when the league invested in the company.

While the daily MLB.TV free game is a locally produced broadcast, MLB and FanDuel will be able to customize it for bettors, using graphic overlays with odds and betting-centric stats and, perhaps, alternate audio feeds that feature handicappers.

From its earnings report today, FanDuel said it’s “increasing its U.S. market share in sports betting from 42% to now 50% in the fourth quarter.”

The Vikings were tops and the Commanders ranked last on a survey of NFL players of their clubs’ working conditions from the NFLPA, reports SBJ’s Liz Mullen.

Rounding out the top five were the Dolphins, Raiders, Texans and Cowboys, respectively. The bottom five clubs were the Jaguars (28), Chiefs (29), Chargers (30), Cardinals (31) and Commanders (32).

Clubs were ranked based on a confidential questionnaire of 1,300 NFL players asking them their opinions on club working conditions in eight categories: nutrition, weight room, strength coaches, training staff, training room, team travel, locker room and treatment of families. Each player who participated graded the club he played on during the 2022 season.

Ticketmaster is replacing SeatGeek as the official ticketing partner of MLS under a multiyear deal that will run through the 2026 World Cup, reports SBJ’s Alex Silverman.

This league-level ticketing deal is largely an exposure play for Ticketmaster, as each club sells its own tickets under individual partnership agreements. Seventeen of MLS’ 29 clubs currently use Ticketmaster’s platform to sell tickets.

The news of SeatGeek parting ways with MLS comes days after the announcement of the company’s new five-year ticket resale partnership with MLB that will pay the baseball league $100 million annually.

MLS team ticketing partners
Atlanta United FC Ticketmaster
Austin FC SeatGeek
CF Montreal Outbox Technology
Charlotte FC Ticketmaster
Fire Ticketmaster
Rapids Ticketmaster
Crew Ticketmaster
DC United Ticketmaster
FC Cincinnati SeatGeek
FC Dallas AXS
Dynamo FC SeatGeek
Inter Miami CF Ticketmaster
Galaxy AXS
LAFC Ticketmaster
Minnesota United FC SeatGeek
Nashville SC Ticketmaster
Revolution Ticketmaster
Red Bulls Ticketmaster
NYCFC Ticketmaster
Orlando City SC Ticketmaster
Union Paciolan
Timbers SeatGeek
Real Salt Lake SeatGeek
Earthquakes Ticketmaster
Sounders Ticketmaster
Sporting KC SeatGeek
St. Louis City SC SeatGeek
Toronto FC Ticketmaster
Whitecaps Ticketmaster

Live event site and venue planning platform OnePlan has raised $6 million in a new funding round led by the Dodgers’ Elysian Park Ventures arm and Verance Capital, reports SBJ’s Bret McCormick.

OnePlan provides 2D and 3D digital mapping tools that enable venue planners to organize live events of all sizes. OnePlan’s tech has been used to support more than 25,000 events in 107 countries. Clients include the Intuit Dome project and Silverstone, as well as the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Its 3D tech has significant potential future applications with concepts like the metaverse.

OnePlan’s business dovetails well with Elysian Park Planning, a venue consultancy division of Elysian Park Ventures. Verance Capital is helmed by Lyle Ayes, who was an SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree in 2015.

Shoe company Merrell is sorting out the do-or-die issue of trail footwear — shoes that can take the pounding of a 100-mile trail race — which is why it created arguably the most athlete-centric, diversified tech hub in the running industry: the hybrid Merrell Test Lab, writes SBJ’s Tom Friend.

The lab is part R&D, part 3D, part trail-running. It’s found that sometimes, the best shoe technology is texting a 100-mile runner out in the wild about what they truly need.

Just about a year back, when the company was working on the elite MTL Long Sky 2 sneaker, its Product Line Manager/Trail Running Jon Sanregret was on a group call with Merrell brand ambassador Ragna Debats, the No. 1 rated female runner in the Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc system, who told Merrell that it’s good at making “rhinoceros shoes” that look scruffy, feel heavy and are overbuilt. So Merrell said it would make “cheetah shoes” — and that’s essentially how the latest iteration of Merrell’s Long Sky 2 trail running shoe was born.

Merrell takes athlete feedback into account when designing its shoes

On March 4, 1993, Jim Valvano walked onto the stage at Madison Square Garden to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs. With the spotlight shining on the former N.C. State men’s basketball coach, Valvano announced the start of his cancer research foundation, leaning into an impassioned motto to describe his own bout with cancer.

“Don’t give up … don’t ever give up.”

Thirty years later, and backed by a powerful founding partner in ESPN, the V Foundation for Cancer Research has blossomed into an organization that has awarded more than $310 million for cancer research nationwide.

It’s a major legacy for an organization Valvano envisioned in the final days of his life, writes SBJ’s Xavier Hunter.

MLB and the MLBPA are far better known for being disputatious, rather than collaborative. So when SBJ’s Terry Lefton learned that the league recently gained permission to package player rights within its sponsorships, it stood out form other marketing news.

“Not only we will have player rights with us at the table when we are meeting with (potential) new partners, we will make it a condition of being an MLB partner,” league CRO Noah Garden said. “We need them to promote the sport, and you do that by investing in the sport and our players, who we consider the best athletes in the world.”

This isn’t the only baseball news in this week’s SBJ Marketing newsletter. MLB is seeing a 31% increase in sponsorship revenue for the World Baseball Classic, which begins March 8.

Showcasing its prowess as a training and fitness brand is a key priority for Nobull this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, where the burgeoning apparel company has taken over presenting sponsorship of the event, writes SBJ’s David Rumsey.

One highlight of the 25,000-square-foot Athlete HQ that Nobull built in the Indiana Convention Center adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium is a recovery lounge with PT tables, nutrition amenities and 85 pieces of equipment utilizing the latest technology from NFL partner Hyperice.

The combine recovery lounge is the start of more tech-focused integrations for Nobull, which next week will work with Hyperice again, as well as Whoop, to give PGA Tour fans an immersive training experience at The Players Championship.

This week’s SBJ Tech newsletter also covers:

  • Drone Racing League ends season on a high note in Miami
  • Innovations to be honored at Sports Business Awards: Tech

Tonight’s op-ed is from Scott Moore, the gaming lead at Fuse:

“GWI reports that those interested in esports are 3% more likely to follow esports players than esports teams on social media (24.3% versus 23.6%). Comparatively, those interested in the Premier League are 21% more likely to follow teams than players (34.9% versus 28.8%). There are only a relative few high-profile players — such as Messi or Ronaldo — who will take fans with them wherever they play. But in esports, it’s a much larger trend.

“This understanding can help esports marketers target two fan bases, albeit with lots of crossovers, that sit within an underlying esports sponsorship property. Most esports sponsorship proposals include both team and talent. But if we were to separate them, there are several considerations: what would each deliver independently; when should you do one as opposed to the other; what strategy is most aligned to each; what assets do you get with each; and what are the strengths and challenges?”

Read the full submission here.

  • Altius Sports Partners has extended its partnership with Women Leaders in College Sports, notes SBJ’s Michael Smith, with a focus on identifying and developing talent for Altius’ on-campus NIL General Manager program.
  • AI-based security screening tech firm Evolv Technology’s revenue climbed from $23.4 million in FY21 to $55.2 million, notes SBJ’s Bret McCormick.
  • Rocket League Esports and Ally Financial are creating and promoting a new women’s tournament alongside the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) as part of Ally’s pledge to split its media spend 50/50 across women’s and men’s sports, which includes esports, notes SBJ’s Kevin Hitt.
  • Slate, which helps leagues, brands and networks aggregate and upscale social media content, has received $5.5 million in seed funding led by N.Y.-based Charge Ventures, writes SBJ’s Tom Friend.

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