The news that Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini (seen above during a Fox Business interview in 2018) has been named to WWE’s board, first reported by Sportico’s Eben Novy-Williams Monday afternoon, is interesting on a couple of levels. For one thing, it’s a further indication of WWE continuing to bring in prominent people; their board has quite a few notable names, including former Six Flags CFO Jeffrey Speed and former Sony Pictures Entertainment president of home entertainment Man Jit Singh, and they just hired prominent agent Nick Khan (CAA’s former co-head of television) in August as WWE president and chief revenue officer. (Khan filled a role that was surprisingly vacated in January when the company dismissed co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson.)
Beyond that, though, it’s interesting to see Nardini (Barstool’s CEO since July 2016) being named to other prominent board positions (she was already on advisory boards with the Premier Lacrosse League and Food52). And it’s notable to see WWE continue to diversify their board; Nardini becomes the third woman there, out of 12 total board members, following WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon and former Travel Channel president Laureen Ong. Here’s what WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said about Nardini in a statement:
“Erika is a seasoned executive with a tremendous track record of building businesses, developing experiences, and engaging different audiences across the media ecosystem. Her entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and understanding of today’s consumers will serve as a perfect addition to our Board of Directors.”
And it’s interesting to ponder if this might lead to WWE and Barstool further working together in some fashion. Of course, plenty of board appointments don’t lead to anything further with those appointees’ companies. But there are some certainly possible crossovers between Barstool and WWE, especially with the demographics (primarily young and male) that both tend to emphasize courting. And Barstool does already cover WWE to some extent, and they’ve done some league partnerships in the past, particularly with NASCAR. So something there certainly can’t be ruled out.
Even if this doesn’t lead to much in the way of an official Barstool-WWE connection, though, it’s certainly interesting that WWE is adding Nardini to their board and talking about her experiences “engaging different audiences across the media ecosystem.” That may see WWE getting some insight from Nardini on things that have worked for Barstool, and perhaps adopting some of that themselves. (And it should be noted that some of Barstool’s approaches and personalities have taken a lot of criticism, so there is risk in emulating some of their approaches; their bottom line has done just fine, though.) At any rate, this is a notable move, and one that’s worth keeping an eye on in case this produces anything further from either or both companies.