Whistle Sports Network, which distributes video content aimed at millennial sports fans across 225 YouTube channels and social networks, announced that it has raised $28 million in Series B financing.
The funding, which brings Whistle Sports to $36 million raised to date, was led by Emil Capital Partners, an affiliate of the Tengelmann Group. Also participating in the round were BSkyB (which previously announced its $7 million investment) and John Malone’s Liberty Global international cable operator, as well as prior investors including recently retired New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning.
“Whistle Sports is changing sports-media consumption habits and have become the destination for millions of young millennial sports fans around the world,” Emil Capital CEO Andreas Guldin said in a statement. “Partnering with them to continue their impressive growth trajectory is a strategic win for us.”
Added Peyton Manning, “I believe in Whistle Sports’ mission of inspiring young fans with what’s best in sports and their focus on the values that drive success on and off the field The content is great and it is clear that they’re growing quickly.”
Jeter, incidentally, last fall teamed with Legendary Entertainment on a separate digital-media venture, The Players’ Tribune, touted as providing unfiltered access to the ruminations of pro athletes.
Other prior investors in Whistle Sports include Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of Clear Channel; Gerry Laybourne, former head of Oyxgen Media and Nickelodeon; and SeventySix Capital.
Whistle Sports, founded in 2009, launched its YouTube multichannel network in January 2014. That now has 12 million subscribers across 225 channel partners, who have created videos that have been viewed more than 2 billion times.
The company’s pro-sports league partners include the NFL, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the PGA Tour, NASCAR, Major League Lacrosse, AVP pro volleyball, Major League Soccer and the Harlem Globetrotters. YouTube MCN partners include Dude Perfect, Brodie Smith and U.K.-based soccer channel STRSkill School.
In addition to YouTube, Whistle Sports has expanded across Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, giving it a monthly reach of 50 million users as of the end of 2014, according to founder and CEO John West. The company will use the new funding to expand further on social media as well as internationally in Latin America, Asia and Europe, he said.
“We’re essentially building a network across social platforms, driven by short-form video,” West said.
Whistle Sports is based in New York, with offices in Dallas, Los Angeles and London. The company currently has 50 employees, which West said he expects to increase over the next few months. About half of Whistle Sports’ revenue is generated by advertising sales, with the other half from branded content.