×

Whistle Buys Elisabeth Murdoch’s Snap-Backed Vertical Networks Studio

Whistle, a digital sports and entertainment media company, reached a deal to acquire Vertical Networks, a content studio focused on Snapchat original shows founded by Elisabeth Murdoch and backed by Snap.

The deal is the second acquisition for Whistle this year, following its purchase of L.A.-based studio New Form, under which that company’s investors — including Discovery, ITV, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer — became shareholders of Whistle.

Financial terms of Whistle’s deal for Vertical Networks were not disclosed. Under the pact, current stockholders of Vertical Networks — which include affiliates of Elisabeth Murdoch and Snap — have received equity shares in Whistle. Founded in 2014, originally called Whistle Sports, the New York-based company has raised over $100 million from investors including Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, NBC Sports, Sky Sports, Liberty Global and Tegna.

Whistle currently has 12 shows on Snapchat, including two new Snap Originals, “Can’t Talk Now” and “Two Sides,” produced by New Form, as well as its series “No Days Off,” “Dunk League,” and “Whistle Worthy.”

With Vertical Networks — whose name alludes to the vertical orientation of video on Snapchat — Whistle will pick up additional Snapchat shows, including “Phone Swap,” now in its seventh season, and the Snapchat Publisher “Story Brother,” which has over 20 million subscribers.

Former Vertical Networks CEO Jesus Chavez, the Univision and Mitú exec who came on board last year to run the company, is not joining Whistle with the sale. Whistle said Jordan Hill, previously Vertical Networks’ VP of finance and operations, will be promoted to senior VP and general manager and report to Whistle president Michael Cohen. Vertical Networks has under 40 employees, most of whom will be joining Whistle.

“There’s a natural synergy between Whistle and Vertical Networks, and we are excited to welcome aboard their team,” Cohen said in a statement. “We both have mobile-first in our DNA, we invest in data-backed IP creation, and we produce relatable content optimized by platform to engage today’s audiences through both short and longer formats.”

Privately held Whistle claims that, through the acquisitions of Vertical Networks and New Form coupled with organic growth, the company is on track to more than double its revenue in 2019.

Hill and Cohen, along with New Form’s Kathleen Grace, will work together on the Vertical Networks content slate post-acquisition. Following the integration of Vertical period, Grace will concentrate on executive producer tasks including Snap original series “Two Sides” and “Can’t Talk Now”; Quibi’s untitled fashion documentary series; and sci-fi drama “Don’t Look Deeper” for Quibi starring Don Cheadle, Emily Mortimer and Helena Howard.

Vertical Networks, founded in 2016, is based in Santa Monica. In addition to “Phone Swap” and “Brother,” the company’s channels and formats include “Parental Guidance,” “Mindsy,” “Celebrity Binge Watch,” “Yes Theory” and “I Have a Secret.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Doug Scott - Twitch

    Twitch Recruits Zynga's Doug Scott as Chief Marketing Officer

    Doug Scott is leaving as game company Zynga’s marketing boss to become Twitch’s CMO. Scott assumes the CMO role at Twitch after previous chief marketing officer Kate Jhaveri exited this summer to become the NBA’s top marketing exec. News of Scott’s hire comes less than a month after Twitch launched a redesigned logo and site, [...]

  • Carter Hansen - VidCon

    VidCon Hires Ex-AwesomenessTV Exec Carter Hansen to Head Conference Programming

    VidCon hired Carter Hansen, a founding executive at AwesomenessTV, as VP of programming to oversee conference programming and content for the internet-video events producer. In the newly created role, Hansen reports to VidCon GM Jim Louderback and will be based in Viacom’s Hollywood office. As part of overseeing programming worldwide for VidCon’s community, creator and [...]

  • The Boys Amazon Prime

    Nielsen Adds Amazon Prime Video to SVOD Measurement, With Limitations

    After two years of measuring Netflix viewing, Nielsen has now added Amazon Prime Video to the mix of subscription-streaming services it tracks — and with the same set of limitations. Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings originally launched in October 2017 with Netflix. According to the research firm, the addition of Amazon Prime Video measurement will let [...]

  • Gavel Court Placeholder

    Netflix Movie Scammer Admits to Defrauding Investors Out of $14 Million

    A California man has admitted to defrauding investment groups — nabbing $14 million — by falsely claiming the money would be used to produce a feature film for Netflix. On Oct. 18, Adam Joiner, 41, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court, according to federal authorities. [...]

  • netflix debt

    Netflix to Raise Another $2 Billion Through Debt to Fund Massive Content Spending

    Netflix, burning boatloads of cash with a projected $15 billion content budget for 2019, is adding to its debt load once again. On Monday (Oct. 21), Netflix announced plans to offer approximately $2.0 billion aggregate principal amount of junk bonds, in both U.S dollar and euro denominations. As of Sept. 30, Netflix reported $12.43 billion [...]

  • Bristol, CT - July 26, 2018

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content