Sports-centric digital content company Team Whistle has been acquired by U.K.-based Eleven Sports, which operates a multinational group of sports TV channels and whose rights portfolio features myriad leagues across Europe and Asia, including the Champions League, Premier League, LaLiga, the NBA, NFL, and more.
The deal will help Eleven boost its presence in the states via Whistle’s slate of original programming, 629 million aggregated social media followers, and 4 billion monthly video views, according a release. Whistle, for its part, reps YouTube mega-channels Dude Perfect and F2 Freestylers.
The financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, were not disclosed, though Variety reports that Eleven’s parent company, Aser Ventures — which led an investment round in Whistle back in June 2018 — is buying out the rest of the company’s investors. (In 2018, Aser’s founder, the Italian sports and media entrepreneur Andrea Radrizzani, also joined Whistle’s board).
Prior to its acquisition, Whistle — which had raised $141 million in venture funding from the likes of NBC Sports, Tegna, and WndrCo — had acquired several digital properties of its own, including early digital content studio New Form, Elisabeth Murdoch-founded and Snap-backed Vertical Networks and marketing and production company Tiny Horse.
Eleven said that projected revenues for the newly-combined group — which will comprise 300 employees — are expected to exceed $300 million for the financial year ending June 30, 2021. The combined company, it says, will now house a network of OTT and social platforms, as well as provide marketing services. In coming months, Eleven will work to secure more live sports content and develop more on-demand entertainment programming, it said.
Eleven notes it first sought global and digital expansion with the Nov. 2020 acquisition of streaming tech purveyor MyCujoo, which paved the way for its own ElevenSports.com platform. The acquisition of Whistle will help it further realize this mission.
“Upon first meeting Andrea [Radrizzani] years ago, we shared a common bond on how sport and entertainment were being reimagined,” Whistle founder and executive chairman John West said in a statement. “Now with the pace of media transformation happening at an accelerated rate globally, joining forces with ELEVEN allows us to create a truly unique, global media powerhouse.”
Following the acquisition, West will join Eleven’s group board of directors, while Whistle CEO Michael Cohen will continue to lead the Whistle team, joining Eleven’s group management suite.
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