David Brait Topics in Data Science

Barstool's Journey From New England to National Brand

(Data in the graphs below was scraped from the Barstool Facebook page)

At the beginning of 2013 Barstool Sports started to become a mainstream fixture in New England. After years of toiling in obscurity they became synonymous with the Northeast college experience, an unapologetic champion for Boston teams, and a convenient punching bag for the local news.

The Boston Marathon

In April 2013 they took the next step, merging their disparate identities to become the voice of New England. Barstool told the story, raised money and rallied Boston in the days after the Boston Marathon bombings. Facebook posts like Jeff Bauman delivering Sydney Corcoran her 18th birthday present and the escort for Sean Collier, created unprecedented engagement and resonated with defiant New Englanders.

Much of the audience they gained during April 2013 stayed in their Facebook numbers throughout the year. It was a great initial indicator of their bond with readers.

Expanding Nationally

From 2013-2015, Barstool’s numbers remained New England centric. A viral post was likely to reference Defaltegate or a Boston sports team. Towards the end of 2015 this started to change as the numbers gradually increased. November 2015 was the second major inflection point in Barstool’s overall Facebook numbers.

As the base expanded nationally, the most shared posts became more diverse both geographically and in scope. They ranged from Big Cat watching the Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary with Superfan and Detroit Don, to Bills Mafia videos to a video of Rick Flair at a restaurant.

The Chernin Acquisition

With strategic investment from The Chernin Group in early 2016 this expansion has continued. Sub brands like “Saturday with the Boys” and “Pardon My Take” are proof that the engagement power Barstool flexed in the Northeast works on a national scale.

Can Barstool continue to grow while maintaining a comparable level of connection to their fans? The answer will likely come soon. Despite the Chernin acquisition, the overall Facebook numbers stayed relatively stable through 2016 and early 2017. This has changed in the last month.

If they retain these growth numbers it will be fascinating to watch how it manifests within the product and fan base.

The Chernin acquisition has brought all sorts of smaller changes in promotion and types of content that I will hopefully dive into in a later post. For now, I thought this was an interesting look into how Barstool has grown over the past five years. Anybody interested in specific Facebook or Twitter trends please feel free to email me.


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