Kelly will report to president and co-founder Jeff Urban, joining the New York-based company in early September. Kelly will work with Whistle’s sales, brand and business development teams to connect with agencies, marketers, partners and platforms.
In 2015, Kelly joined Awesomeness — the Gen Z-centric digital media company majority owned by Comcast — originally as head of music partnerships. Previously, he spent five years at Viacom, most recently as VP of music brand sales, and also has worked at Discovery Communications and Sony BMG.
Asked why he opted to make the move to Whistle Sports, Kelly said, “For a long time I’ve believed there’s two really, really powerful ways to engage young people: music and sports… The delivery vehicle obviously has shifted for music – and now that’s happening for sports.”
The company says it reaches an aggregate audience of 375 million subscribers across YouTube, social media and other platforms, growing at a rate of over 2 million per week. The audience skews toward males between the ages of 13 to 34. Whistle Sports has a network of about 400 content creators.
“There’s been an explosion of short-form, mobile-first video – and that’s limited the appeal of sitting through a three- or four-hour football or baseball game” for younger fans, Kelly continued. “Whistle has pioneered a new category for sports visual content.”
Whistle Sports has raised $60 million funding to date from investors including NBC Sports, Tegna, Sky, Liberty Global, former New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, ex-Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning; and Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman.
Kelly, a native of Dublin, Ireland, said his main sport is “what the rest of the world calls football,” saying he follows the Everton FC in the Premier League.