Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Barstool Sports was founded in 2003 as a free gambling newspaper. It later became a sports blog before growing into a media empire, and now things have come full circle with the recent launch of its own branded sportsbook.

Driving the news: The Barstool Sportsbook app saw a record 21,000 downloads per day during its first weekend (Sept. 18–20), breaking DraftKings' and Fanduel's daily records despite Pennsylvania being the only state where it was operational.

  • While other sports betting companies rely on advertising and sponsored content to spread the word, Barstool tapped into its own passionate and loyal audience to get its sportsbook trending all weekend on Twitter.
  • It's that one major difference — brute force marketing vs. audience engagement — that sets Barstool apart. After all, this is a media company foraying into sports betting, not a sports betting operator trying to do media.

The landscape: When betting operator Penn National bought a 36% stake in Barstool for $163 million back in January, it was making a bet that Barstool's brand and following would help them cut through in a crowded marketplace.

  • DFS giants: DraftKings and FanDuel already know how to efficiently acquire users who want to risk money on sports because they've been doing it for nearly a decade with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). They've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on DFS advertising, so they have significant head starts.
  • Casinos: Brands like MGM and Caesars — which acquired U.K. bookmaker William Hill for $3.7 billion on Wednesday — have huge player databases and industry expertise.
  • Media giants: Fox Sports and The Stars Group launched Fox Bet last September. They're able to promote their betting platform during live football games and integrate into shows like "Fox Bet Live," which is a huge advantage.
  • Offshore books: Costa Rica-based sportsbook 5Dimes just reached a $46 million settlement with the U.S. government and can now pursue opportunities in the legal U.S. market. Look for more offshore books to follow suit as they try to "go legit.”

The big picture: Barstool is controversial, has its fair share of critics and is perhaps more known for podcasts, pizza reviews and viral stunts than it ever will be for its sports betting platform.

  • It's also entering a highly-regulated space that will likely not tolerate its brash approach, which could create problems for Penn National or, perhaps of greater concern to Barstool's loyal following, force the company to tone it down.

Yes, but: Barstool has 16.4 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — and knows how to get them to read, watch and listen to things and even spend money. If the mission is to create content and drive betting activity, they have the tools to do it.

  • Just as DraftKings and FanDuel have spent years mastering the science of acquiring customers, Barstool has mastered the science of engaging an audience.
  • If sports betting is ultimately entertainment, that's their advantage.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy and CEO Erika Nardini. Courtesy: Barstool Sports

I spoke with Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini about the company's expansion into sports betting. Some highlights from our conversation:

  • On the sportsbook launch: "We brought the launch to life in a way that's just really different from everyone else. Like, we don't have television. We're not running during the live game. We sent 25 people and our two biggest personalities to Pennsylvania, watched games all weekend and brought that experience to life on social."
  • On the "Philly House": "Essentially what we've done is created a content house where we're watching games, making videos, doing podcasts and recording live shows. We're bringing all of our biggest personalities down there every week for Saturday college football, Sunday NFL, baseball, basketball, you name it."
  • On sports betting content: "If you think about a traditional media company, they have studios, talent goes to those studios and they produce shows in those studios. Our studio is us watching a game. Our show is a room full of people — some took the over, some took the under. It's authentic, relatable and not that dissimilar to what's happening in living rooms around the country."
  • On Barstool's target audience: "If you're looking to be entertained, Barstool does that better than anybody. You can watch a show like 'Barstool Sports Advisers' and not even bet and think it's hilarious. If you're looking for betting models, stats and 'insider tips,' like, we're not for you."

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Aug 17, 2021 - Sports

The sports world's "decacorn"

Expand chart
Data: Crunchbase; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Fanatics has nearly tripled in value over the last year. Now, the e-commerce giant wants to expand into new businesses like sports betting, ticketing and media.

Driving the news: Fanatics closed a $325 million funding round last week that values the company at $18 billion, making it the world's 12th-most valuable private company, per CB Insights.

2 hours ago - Health

Government website for free COVID tests launches early

COVID-19 rapid at-home test kits. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The website where Americans can request free, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests from the government launched Tuesday and is now accepting orders.

Driving the news: The website went live in its beta phase and is operating at a limited capacity a day before its official launch. Every home in the U.S. is eligible for up to four COVID tests, according to the website.

AT&T, Verizon extend 5G delay over airline panic

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

AT&T and Verizon said Tuesday they would delay lighting up its 5G signals near a limited number of airports after renewed opposition from the aviation industry over concerns about signal interference.

Why it matters: The CEOs of leading airlines warned of catastrophic disruption to flights if AT&T and Verizon deployed 5G as planned this week.