Digital Sports Network Whistle Sports Raises $7M from BSkyB

/ Oct 29, 2014


British Sky Broadcasting continues to add to its investment portfolio; the media giant has invested $7 million in Whistle Sports, bringing the total money raised by the sports-focused digital media company and YouTube multi-channel network to $25 million.

The investment doubles as a new content partnership between the companies. Per the deal, Sky and Whistle Sports will work together to create original digital content for “young millennial” sports fans.

Whistle Sports operates a YouTube MCN that reaches 8.3 million subscribers across 192 channels. Top creators within the network include Los Angeles Laker point guard Jeremy Lin, trick-shot artists Dude Perfect, Ultimate Frisbee specialist Brodie Smith, and soccer skills guru Steve Roberts of STR Skill School.

Whistle Sports routinely pairs its creators with brands and media companies to produce youth-oriented original short-form content, which is usually distributed on YouTube as well as its Xbox app.

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.

It’s here where Whistle Sports has a huge opportunity with Sky. The company’s Sky Sports arm is the ESPN of UK sports, controlling broadcast rights to English Premiere League soccer, international cricket and rugby, European and US golf, and Formula 1 racing, among other sports. Via this partnership, Whistle Sports and Sky Sports will collaborate on content, featuring talent from both networks, as well as explore “promotional opportunities” aimed at introducing each of their brands to the other’s audience.

While it’s clear how that helps Whistle Sports, the arrangement is a pretty a shrewd move by Sky Sports to reach the next generation of sports fans. (It’s not unlike other deals we have seen in the MCN space — Food Network owner Scripps Networks Interactive investing in digital food network Tastemade, for instance.)

For Whistle Sports, this partnership also helps its overseas expansion plans, which began in earnest with the opening of an office in London led by YouTube’s former global head of football Jeff Nathenson.

This is the latest in a series of digital video-related investment from Sky, which in the past month alone has put money into native-ad tech firm Sharethrough, online video service Pluto.TV, and streaming devices company Roku. These deals are part of an ongoing program to invest in startups that bring “new ideas, insight, and services to [Sky’s] business,” the company said.

Sky joins a group of investors in Whistle Sports that includes Philadelphia-based SeventySix Capital, ex-Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy, ex-Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne, and iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman. That group combined to invest $10 million in May.

Earlier investors include legendary Gatorade spokesmen Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter.

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