Sky (BSkyB) is best known as a British satellite broadcaster, but it is increasingly becoming a startup investor after it announced its third deal in a month. Fresh from putting $5 million into ad tech startup Sharethrough and backing online video platform Pluto, the company has ploughed $7 million into Whistle Sports, a YouTube network that is focused on — you guessed it — sports videos for young people.
Sky, which also invested in Roku, said the deal is part of “an ongoing programme of investing in innovative startups that help bring new ideas, insight and services into its business.” With young people increasingly shying away from terrestrial and satellite TV, networks like Whistle Sports offer a way for advertisers to connect with younger audiences through video. The union makes particular sense for Sky given its significant sports business — the broadcaster has held the rights to England’s Premiership
soccer football division for the last 20 years.
Indeed, the deal will see the two companies put their collective heads together to create “exciting new content for younger sports fans, particularly ‘young millennials’,” according to a statement from Sky.
US-based Whistle Sports is a YouTube-certified broadcaster and it has more than 195 channels, which include content from basketball star Jeremy Lin, ultimate frisbee’s Brodie Smith and sports comedians Dude Perfect. Aside from stars and personalities, it also has partnerships with the NFL, PGA Tour, MLB, MLS and other US sports leagues.
All in all, the network claims that its library of over 28,700 videos have generated more than 1.2 billion views. That represents an area that Sky has an interest in being seen in, as Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, explained in a statement:
“Whistle Sports has very quickly established itself in the US as a major new sports network. 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.”
Whistle Sports describes itself as being “cross platform” which essentially means that it uses multiple social networks to engage with and reach viewers. Its presence includes YouTube (8 million subscribers), Facebook (9.3 million fans), Twitter (1.3 million followers), Instagram (2.5 million followers), and Vine (2.2 million followers) — there is also an app for the Xbox 360, with support for the Xbox One and Roku’s streaming player in the pipeline.