BSkyB Invests $7 Million in YouTube Network Whistle Sports in Push to Capture Young Audiences

BSkyB has taken a stake in another American digital-media firm, with the U.K. satcaster investing $7 million in Whistle Sports, a sports-focused multichannel network aimed at young millennials.

The funding from Sky brings Whistle Sports to a total of $25 million raised. Prior investors including Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of Clear Channel; Gerry Laybourne, former head of Oyxgen Media and Nickelodeon; and SeventySix Capital.

Launched in January 2014, Whistle Sports has library of 28,000-plus videos available on YouTube and Xbox covering a variety of sports including basketball, baseball, soccer and American football, alongside niche-oriented sports such as football freestyle, skateboarding, trick shots and ultimate frisbee.

The startup produces original content in partnership with sports stars and works with sports leagues and franchises such as the NFL, PGA, NASCAR and Major League Baseball Advanced Media to engage with younger sports fans. Whistle Sports has 8.3 million subscribers across 192 channels and has served more than 1.25 billion views to date.

For Sky Sports, the BSkyB investment in Whistle Sports will give it the potential to collaborate on content creation and to share talent as well as explore promotional opportunities aimed at introducing each of their respective brands to new audiences.

“Whistle Sports has very quickly established itself in the U.S. as a major new sports network,” Barney Francis, Sky Sports managing director, said in a statement. “We see lots of potential to harness Sky Sports’ content and relationships with major sports bodies and brands to work alongside Whistle Sports’ talent network.”

For his part, Whistle Sports founder and CEO John West called the BSkyB partnership “a tremendous fit for us, given our focus on international expansion. Sky is a recognized leader in sports entertainment and delivery and brings to the partnership some of the highest-quality creative and production teams in sports.”

BSkyB’s stake in Whistle Sports is the latest of the satcaster’s startup investments. Those have included online-video aggregator Pluto.TV, ad tech firm Sharethrough, Internet set-top maker Roku, virtual-reality video firm Jaunt and video-delivery provider 1 Mainstream.

Whistle Sports is based in New York with offices in Los Angeles and Dallas. It recently opened an office in London, headed by Jeff Nathenson, YouTube’s former global head of football.

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