BSkyB Invests in Multichannel Network Whistle Sports

The $7 million investment is part of the U.K. pay TV giant's funding of U.S. startups

U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB continues to invest in emerging U.S. digital media and technology companies, on Tuesday unveiling a $7 million investment in YouTube network Whistle Sports.

The two companies said they "look to work together on creating exciting new content for younger sports fans, particularly young millennials." Whistle Sports partners with online personalities to create video content themed around sports, sports brands and franchises.

Whistle Sports operates 195 channels with 8.4 million YouTube subscribers and 1.2 billion views, according to its website. It has relationships with such personalities as Ultimate Frisbee champion Brodie Smith, Steve Roberts of STR Skill School and NBA player Jeremy Lin.

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Derek Jeter, iHeartMedia chairman Bob Pittman and Geraldine Laybourne, the former head of Oyxgen Media, are among the company's previous investors.

BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, said the investment is part of its ongoing program of providing funding to innovative startups that help bring new ideas and services to its business. 

BSkyB's previous investments include online video startup Pluto.TV, which programs online content into TV-like channels that can be watched at any time, ad tech firm Sharethrough, streaming service Roku, virtual reality technology developer Jaunt and video delivery firm 1 Mainstream.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "Whistle Sports has very quickly established itself in the U.S. 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. We look forward to exploring opportunities to collaborate on video content that helps broaden engagement in sport, especially for younger audiences."

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Added Emma Lloyd, director, corporate business development at BSkyB: “This latest investment reflects our ambition to partner with pioneering startups that can help extend our leadership in content distribution, especially online and on mobile."
John West, founder and CEO of Whistle Sports, said: "This partnership is a tremendous fit for us, given our focus on international expansion. Sky is a recognized leader in sports entertainment and delivery and brings to the partnership some of the highest quality creative and production teams in sports. We look forward to connecting them with our rapidly growing audience and community of creators."

Twitter: @georgszalai