In an unusual move for a podcast publisher, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy took control of the Call Her Daddy podcast feed and released an episode offering his side of what’s been going on behind the scenes of the standoff that has kept the show dark since early April. “In my 17 years of doing this, I have never dealt with anyone as unprofessional and disloyal and greedy as those two,” he said.
During a 29-minute episode that throws back the curtain on podcast negotiations and talent wrangling, Portnoy not only describes the details of what hosts Alexandra Cooper and Sofia Franklyn have earned and were offered to continue doing their show, but also sheds light on where the hosts had planned to take their successful podcast.
Portnoy said him jumping on their feed was in response to a series of stories that have appeared in the New York Post about Call Her Daddy, taking particular exception with the allegation that the women were underpaid. He said their initial three-year deal paid Cooper and Franklyn roughly $70,000. Portnoy said the show was an “instant success” and paid Cooper $506,000 by the end of the first year, and Franklyn received $461,000. “They weren’t getting f-ing dirt money, it was written into their contracts that they were getting paid bonuses on their downloads — their downloads were f-ing huge — we went from unknown talent that we took a risk on to each making close to a half a million dollars a year.”
As Call Her Daddy entered its second year, Portnoy said lawyers for Cooper and Franklyn approached the company seeking to renegotiate the contract. They sought a $1 million guarantee, classification as freelancers, 50% of the proceeds of all the merchandise sales, the ability to sell their own ads, and the intellectual property of the show. “At that point, I cut off negotiations — it was insanity,” said Portnoy, who believed the hosts never had any intention of striking any deal since they were shopping the show to other podcasters. He said it appeared the show was headed for Wondery under the new show name of Father but said that deal seems to have fallen through.
Barstool made it clear it would sue since Cooper and Franklyn were only a third of the way into their three-year deal. But after a multiweek standoff, Portnoy said during a rooftop meeting at his home three weeks ago he made them a too-good-to-turn-down compromise to help jumpstart billings at a time when Barstool was seeing advertisers cancel or delay buys because of COVID-19. That deal included $500,000 per year in pay plus bonuses, a 7.5% cut of all the merchandise sales, and their three-year contract would be cut to just 18 months. Portnoy said he also agreed to give up the intellectual property on the show. “It was a no-brainer deal,” said Portnoy. “I just wanted to get this f-ing thing going so we could pay the bills.”
In the ensuing weeks, Portnoy alleges Franklyn and Cooper have had a falling out of their own over whether to return to Barstool and the ownership split of the podcast they created. Going forward, Barstool seems ready to at least revive the podcast, with Cooper hosting the show solo. “As we sit, we’re getting ready to potentially bring Alex back on to try to do it herself,” he said. But he also floated the idea on the podcast of cutting ties to both women and finding new hosts for a podcast whose intellectual property is owned by the company.
Portnoy also said he expects Barstool will be sued by one or both of the women — but didn’t say if he plans legal action against them for walking away from their podcast with two years left on their contract. Portnoy said for every week that Call Her Daddy doesn’t release an episode it costs Barstool roughly $100,000 in lost advertising revenue.