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The Young Turks Network is looking to grow its roster of political programming with the help of former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer.
The online news network has raised $4 million in seed funding from the politician’s Roemer Robinson Melville & Co. The Baton Rouge, La., investment management firm has the option to raise its stake, structured as debt equity, to as much as $8 million.
TYT last raised seed funding in 2005, but CEO and co-founder Cenk Uygur says that the company is “expanding at a furious pace.” He’s looking to significantly increase the network’s current 30-person headcount as it expands its programming and adds new distribution platforms.
He adds that Roemer is “a great partner. He’s very supportive. It’s a win-win for both sides.”
TYT began as a satellite radio show called The Young Turks in 2002 that eventually expanded to a YouTube channel of the same name in 2005. Today The Young Turks multichannel network has more than 83 million views per month and political talk show The Young Turks has generated more than 1.3 billion total views.
TYT aired a show on Current TV from late 2011 to August 2013, which was canceled following Al Jazeera’s acquisition of the cable channel and subsequent reorganization.
“I loved Current TV. They were fantastic to us,” says Uygur. “But honestly we’ve only grown since. It’s been really positive for us to focus on the digital side of the business where all the audience is.”
TYT announced March 24 that it struck a deal with Hulu and Hulu Plus to stream a 30-minute version of its popular political talk show and a weekly edition of entertainment series PopTrigger. The network is also growing its slate of programming. College-focused TYT University currently has more than 241,000 subscribers and TYT Sports has 112,000 subscribers.
Roemer said his investment firm had been looking to invest in a new media business for the last two years and found a like-minded partner in TYT.
“We believe TYT will be one of the critical players moving forward in a new media world — edgy, unfiltered news commentary at its best,” he added. “They are a lot like me, sometimes wrong but never in doubt. We expect their news to continue to push the envelope and their business to grow exponentially.”
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