Team Whistle, the New York-based digital-media company, on Thursday announced the acquisition of Tiny Horse, a marketing services firm focused on over-the-top streamers, TV networks, producers and advertisers.
Terms of the Whistle-Tiny Horse deal weren’t disclosed. The acquisition is mostly in the form of a stock-swap and valued at around $30 million, sources said. Key clients of Tiny Horse include Amazon, WarnerMedia, Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Pepsi, P&G, ViacomCBS and Walmart.
It’s the third acquisition in the last 15 months for Team Whistle (formerly known as Whistle, and original Whistle Sports). In January 2019, the company bought New Form, the digital studio backed by Discovery, ITV, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer. Last fall, Whistle snapped up Elisabeth Murdoch’s Snapchat-centric Vertical Networks.
Under the terms of the pact, Tiny Horse’s Palomino OTT advertising sales group also will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Team Whistle.
Privately held Team Whistle claims it is on track to more than double revenue in 2020, helped by the recently acquired assets, according to Team Whistle president Michael Cohen. Since early March — when the coronavirus pandemic first hit the U.S. — watch time on Team Whistle’s network has increased 25% and its content has generated 4.2 billion video views per month worldwide, the company says.
“With the pace of media transformation happening at an accelerated rate throughout COVID-19, acquiring Tiny Horse further positions us to lead through this time of tremendous change by combining our premium IP and massive activatable audiences with superior marketing and customer acquisition capabilities,” Cohen said in announcing the deal.
Tiny Horse’s management team and current investors, which include Elizabeth Koch, founder of Unlikely Collaborators, will become shareholders of Team Whistle shareholders. Other equity owners of Team Whistle include NBCU/Sky Sports, Discovery, ITV, Liberty Global, Snap, WndrCo, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Elisabeth Murdoch and CAA.
With the acquisition, Kyle Young, managing partner and co-founder of Tiny Horse, will become president of Tiny Horse and an executive VP at Team Whistle, reporting to Michael Cohen.
Tiny Horse co-founders Melanie Capacia Johnson and Owen Leimbach will continue as head of development and production and head of strategy and innovation, respectively, reporting to Young. Benjamin Simon, GM and co-founder of Palomino, will continue to serve as head of sales and brand partnerships of Palomino, also reporting to Young. Meanwhile, Jonathan Reynaga, another Tiny Horse co-founder, is departing the company to pursue independent projects.
“We have a long history of working with Team Whistle on numerous fronts,” Tiny Horse’s Kyle Young said in a statement. “We’re excited about the larger opportunities for our combined sales, marketing and production teams to not only deepen the relationship between Team Whistle’s global audience and existing IP, but also offer this expertise and network to help streamers, brands and talent do the same.”
Team Whistle expanded its portfolio of content aimed young audiences with programming spanning sports, entertainment and gaming distributed across social, audio and OTT channels. With the acquisitions of New Form and Vertical Networks, the company has developed and produced shows featuring Dwayne Wade, Steph Curry, Dude Perfect, FaZe Clan, Nina Garcia, Emily Mortimer, Don Cheadle, Catherine Hardwicke, among others.
Founded in 2014, Team Whistle was originally called Whistle Sports, centered on aggregating sports content from digital creators. The company has raised over $100 million to date from investors including Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, Aser Media, Liberty Global, NBC Sports, Sky Sports, Tegna, Beringea and Emil Capital.