Barstool Sports is launching an endorsement deals marketplace, called TwoYay, for college athletes. The name, image and likeness-focused platform will connect athletes directly with interested brands, advertisers and agencies for potential partnerships or sponsor deals.
TwoYay will go live immediately, as announced at the company’s 2023 upfront Wednesday in New York.
With TwoYay, the digital media giant is jumping into competition with a plethora of NIL marketplaces that have spent the last 15 months fighting for a share of the highly fragmented market. Competing for traction in a crowded NIL landscape, Barstool’s scale may be its biggest differentiator.
The digital media company will open the platform to its “Barstool Athletes” network, which includes more than 150,000 college athletes. That’s around 30% of all college athletes who compete in NCAA sports each year, and it’s more than double the number who use NIL giant INFLCR’s app (70,000 from 4,000 NCAA teams) and nearly twice as many as its rival Opendorse (80,000 athletes, around 65,000 of whom are in college).
Barstool Athletes can opt in to the new platform, which will be free to use for parties on both sides of college athlete deals. Payments will be processed through TwoYay as well, and users are promised prompt payouts without lengthy waiting periods. Potential sponsors will also be able to connect with Barstool’s 400 college and city affiliates and other Barstool brands through the digital marketplace.
Barstool CEO Erika Nardini highlighted the company’s collegiate reach in an interview with Sportico, saying, “150,000 Barstool Athletes is a pretty robust number.”
The company believes it’s in a strong position to help those athletes with NIL. “The whole name of the game is their social following, the type of content that they create—there are a bunch of different ways we can help them with that,” Nardini said. “But we also understand that they want to make money. They want to be able to use their name, image and likeness to build their own personal business. And we believe the marketplace will enable them to do that.”
While the platform will launch without a cut for Barstool on either side of the deal, and a commitment to never take a percentage from the athlete side, Nardini left the door open for a fee for advertisers or brands who do deals through TwoYay in the future.
Barstool Athlete launched on July 1, 2021, when the NCAA started allowing college athletes to monetize their NIL. The program offers athletes across the country free Barstool gear in exchange for promoting Barstool and its program on social media.
The long-term plan is for TwoYay to also serve as a marketplace for other influencers—a platform that can be utilized by “any creator, anyone who has a social following,” Nardini said. “We’re starting with athletes, but over time this could apply to anyone.”
Barstool’s work in college sports also includes its sponsorship of the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, which includes exclusive broadcast rights for the college football bowl game, and the inaugural Barstool Sports Invitational men’s college basketball tournament. Akron, Mississippi State, Toledo and the University of Alabama at Birmingham will face off in the early-season tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.