Whistle Sports, a YouTube company focused on sports-related content, has raised a $28 million Series B round to expand its focus on markets outside of the U.S..
The company picked up a $7 million investment from British cable provider Sky in October and has already made hires in the UK. This time around Emil Capital Partners, an affiliate of Rocket Internet investor Tengelmann, led the round, which includes participation from investors from its $8 million Series A from 2012.
Whistle Sports is a YouTube-certified broadcaster that produces and publishes a range of sports-focused videos aimed at young people. It makes money by selling branded content and advertisements to sponsors.
YouTube is the major focus for the company and its content, but it also maintains a presence on a range of other social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
In the U.S., it is understandably focused on American sports, but CEO and co-founder John West told TechCrunch that it is rapidly increasing its efforts on globally popular sports, and
soccer football, in particular.
The network doesn’t include sports highlights or live coverage, rather it aims to complement them with other kinds of behind the scene and related footage from its roster — which include sports associations, athletes and YouTube stars.
For example, check out the mad soccer skills from its STRskillSchool channel.
This funding round will go towards moving Whistle Sport’s programming and presence into overseas markets, West said. The company recent opened its European office in London and it is weighing up where to locate its base in Latin America — an expansion to Asia will follow later.
West said this round could be Whistle Sport’s last financing from investors, since he anticipates that it will become profitable in 2016.
“We’ve seen great interest from brands in being part of our network. Our advertising and branded content revenue doubled every quarter last year, and we hope to continue that trend,” he explained. To that end, the company is hiring an internal sales team to push things forward.
Whistle Sports currently has studio space in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and London, and a global headcount of around 50 employees. West said its staff numbers are projected to double over the next nine months.
Talking to West is interesting because it’s clear that he believes the internet, and the Whistle Sports network in particular, is complementary to existing cable, satellite and terrestrial sports coverage — particularly for young people who have unprecedented access to international news and programming 24/7.