CBS has lost one of its bowl games, and Barstool Sports has surprisingly gotten into not only the bowl game sponsorship racket, but also the bowl game media rights racket.
Per Sportico, the Barstool Arizona Bowl will be exclusively streamed on Barstool’s website, app, and social media platforms this year. It’s a multi-year deal for both the sponsorship and media rights.
Last season, the Arizona Bowl (sponsored by Offerpad) aired on CBS proper for the first time, following three straight years on CBS Sports Network. The broadcast schedule of bowl games has traditionally been dominated by ESPN. In last year’s COVID-stricken season, ABC and ESPN aired all but one bowl game – the Arizona Bowl. In 2019, a more normal season, CBS networks had three bowl games (the Cure Bowl, Arizona Bowl, and Sun Bowl), and Fox networks had two (Holiday Bowl, Redbox Bowl)
This bowl season, the schedule is again expected to be an ESPN-centric affair. The Sun Bowl is the only CBS game, and with the future of the Redbox Bowl up in the air, Fox’s lone game is the Holiday bowl.
As said in the Sportico article, Barstool’s …let’s call it “challenging”… relationship with ESPN affected potential game sponsorships.
The move marks the first time Barstool Sports will broadcast a college football contest, but that wasn’t the initial intention. What Nardini said started out as straight sponsorship conversation eventually included distribution discussions “by virtue of the sponsorship.”
“It became clear our title sponsorship would have an implication on where the Arizona Bowl could be broadcast,” Nardini said, alluding to Barstool’s complicated history with certain networks, including ESPN. Instead of navigating the politics of a media partner, the title sponsor offered its services.
This year’s Arizona Bowl will pit a team from the MAC against a Mountain West team. Last season, MAC champion Ball State beat Mountain West champion San Jose State 34-13.
The Arizona Bowl is scheduled to take place on December 31st.