Whistle Sports Nets Big Series B Round

/ Jan 13, 2015

WhistleSports03

Whistle Sports, the largest sports-focused digital video startup and YouTube network, has closed a Series B round for the amount of $28 million.

The funding was led by Emil Capital Partners — an affiliate of the German-based conglomerate Tengelmann Group — and includes new investor Liberty Global Ventures. Existing investors Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning came back for the Series B round, which also includes a $7 million investment made by British Sky Broadcasting last October.

In total, Whistle Sports has now raised $36 million.

Having initially launched with a YouTube multi-channel network a year ago, Whistle Sports now extends across eight different social and digital platforms, including Facebook, Xbox, Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat. In total, Whistle claims a monthly audience of 50 million — its YouTube network alone has grown to 12 million subscribers across 225 channel partners — with 2.5 million new followers coming in every week.

As a result, ad revenue is on the up, “more than doubling each quarter,” according to the startup’s founder and CEO John West. The new money will be used to accelerate audience and revenue growth, with a focus on international markets. This is where Liberty Global and Sky — two of the biggest pay-TV providers in Europe — will come in.

What’s particularly compelling about those two investors, though, is the content and promotional opportunities they open up for Whistle.

Like other YouTube networks, Whistle routinely pairs its creators with brands and media companies to produce youth-oriented, original short-form video. Some of the company’s media partners are pro sports leagues, including the NFL, NASCAR, MLB (through its MLB Advanced Media division), and the PGA Tour. Often, videos created with any of these partners feature a mix of Whistle Sports talent and pro sports stars and/or venues.

Sky controls rights to air the English Premier League and other major sports in the UK. When Sky announced its investment in October, the companies said they would collaborate on content featuring talent from Whistle and Sky Sports, as well as explore various promotional opportunities aimed at introducing each network to the other’s audience. Whistle will do the same with Liberty Global, which wants to a bigger player in the sports-broadcasting business.

As for the potential of bringing Whistle Sports to TV (as other YouTube networks are increasingly attempting to do), that’s not immediately in the cards. “Unlike their parents or grandparents, our target audience consumes video on social platforms first, digital platforms second, and traditional television third,” says West. “That’s how we are prioritizing our time and growth as well.”

That said, with two of the world’s largest TV companies as investors and partners, Whistle is in a good spot if it ever chooses to take such a leap.

More immediately, it’s about expanding across more social and digital platforms. This includes launching apps for more over-the-top platforms. Whistle already has an Xbox app. Expect a few more to roll out in 2015, though West declines to reveal which platforms the company has its eyes on.

If you’re keeping score, this is just the latest in a long line of big-money bets that traditional media has made in the YouTube/MCN ecosystem — it was a major trend in 2014 and should continue well into 2015.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


jukin-media-ethos

Jukin Media Goes Viral for Brands with Ethos Division Launch

 
Streamy Awards

Streamy Awards Trade In VH1 for YouTube, Again

 
zefr-alignment-report

Matching Ads to Videos Not So Simple, According to Zefr’s...

 
shomi

Plug Pulled on Canadian SVOD Service Shomi

 
Industry Tickets Selling Fast!
Click above to lock in your registration for VidCon 2015!
 
Twitter

What’s Trending on the Twitter Sale

 
Machinima Logo

Machinima Teams with SiriusXM for Daily Esports Radio Show

 
Hearst

AwesomenessTV, Vice, Complex to Power New HearstLive...

 
dirty-30-hannah-hart-mamrie-hart-grace-helbig

VIDEO: ‘Dirty 30’ Confessions with Stars Hart,...

 
facebook-thumbs-down

Facebook Says It’s Sorry It Vastly Overestimated Video...

 
craig-piligian-pilgrim-media-group

Pilgrim Media Group CEO Craig Piligian (‘The...

 
youtube-heroes-for-change

Heroes or Rats?: YouTube Unveils New Program for Creators Who...

 
Vessel says it's doing well in its first month

Why Verizon is Pursuing Vessel, the...

 
jared-feldman-and-sam-hui-ph-d-at-the-2014-canvs-launch

How Canvs Media is Harvesting Emotional Insights on YouTube,...

 
marlon-wayans

Marlon Wayans Getting ‘Naked’ for Netflix with Regina Hall

 
huffpost-ryot-aol

HuffPost RYOT Launching Virtual Reality Comedy Series and News...

 
youtube-vote-irl

YouTube Launches #voteIRL Campaign Targeting Digital-First Generation

 
tyler-oakley-camp17

How Top YouTubers (incl. Tyler Oakley & Meghan Rienks)...

 
charlie-sheen-anger-management

Charlie Sheen to Star in Crackle Feature ‘Mad Families’

 
filmbuff_videoink_300x250

Gunpowder & Sky Buys Distributor FilmBuff As Vision for...

 
toy-freaks-youtube

Toy Freaks Top Viewed YouTube Channel in August According to...

 
jeffrey-tambor-transparent-amazon

Emmy Wrap-Up 2016: Jeffrey Tambor (‘Transparent’)...

 
Twitter

Twitter Scores 2.1 Million Viewers for Thursday Night Footall Kickoff

 
youtube-sad-face-error

Vloggers Not Unique Snowflakes: 90 Million Flag YouTube Videos...

 
Mode Media

‘Billion Dollar Startup’ Mode Media Shuts Down

 
raised-firsts-branded-tv

Who Is Winning The Marketing Revolution And Why?

 
shes-gotta-have-it

Netflix Orders ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Series...

 
swedish-dicks-peter-stormare-keanue-reeves-viaplay

What Is ‘Swedish Dicks’ and Who Is Selling It?

 
seamlessly-she-monica-potter-aol-partner-studio-gmc-acadia

How GMC is Using the AOL Series ‘Seamlessly She’...

 
Netflix_new

Liberty Global to Put Netflix on Set-Top Boxes in 30 Countries

 
vincent-cacace-vertebrae

Getting to the Spine of VR’s Monetization Challenges with...

 
meredith_brandfront_videoink_300x250

Meredith Hosted Its Own “Front” Stacked with 20 New Series

 
complex-networks-hearst-verizon

Verizon and Hearst Move RatedRed.com and Seriously.TV Under...

 
Twitter

Twitter Launches Live Streaming Apps for Amazon Fire, Apple TV...

 
YouTube Community

YouTube Fights Back Against Social Media Rivals with Community Feature

 
Casual Hulu

Vimeo Opening Television Store with Lionsgate Content, Launching...

 
A Perfect Day in LA Tastemade Jaunt VR Virtual Reality

From Donuts to Malibu, Tastemade and Jaunt Get Immersive in...

 
Defy Media

Defy Media Close $70 Million Series B Funding Round

 
YouTube Space LA Halloween Set 2016

YouTube Spaces Team with Jason Blum (‘The Purge’)...

 
Yahoo Esports

‘Yahoo Esports Live’ Serves Up Reeses Puffs with...

 
univision

Univision and Lionsgate Team for SVOD Movie Service for U.S. Hispanics