Global TV sports programmer Eleven Sports is buying Team Whistle, a digital sports and entertainment company, in a bid to boost its online reach and expand into North America.
London-based Eleven Sports didn’t disclose the value of the Whistle deal. The company said pro-forma revenue for the combined group would be more than $300 million for the financial year ending June 30, 2021.
Eleven’s parent company is Aser Ventures, which first invested in Whistle in June 2018. Now Aser, founded by Italian sports and media entrepreneur Andrea Radrizzani in 2015, is buying out the rest of Team Whistle’s investors.
“We have long recognized the opportunities for partnership between Team Whistle and the wider Aser portfolio,” Radrizzani said in a statement. “By welcoming Team Whistle into the Eleven Group, we are bringing together two media companies who have a track record of building strong and innovative sports media businesses in Europe, Asia and North America.”
The deal, subject to regulatory approval and usual closing conditions, is expected to close by the second quarter of 2021.
Founded in 2014, Team Whistle was originally called Whistle Sports, focused on aggregating sports content from digital creators. The company has deals for original content with popular sports creators including Dude Perfect and F2 Freestylers. The company had raised about $141 million from investors including Aser, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, Liberty Global, NBC Sports, Sky Sports, Tegna, Beringea and Emil Capital.
Team Whistle’s holdings include New Form, the digital studio whose backers included Discovery, ITV, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer; Snapchat-centric Vertical Networks; and digital marketing services firm Tiny Horse.
Eleven’s rights portfolio in Europe and Asia includes the Champions League, Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, domestic rights to the Belgian Pro League, F1, NBA and NFL, alongside thousands of hours of niche-premium and long-tail live sports.
The Team Whistle deal furthers Eleven Sports’ plans to create a new global sports and entertainment network, according to Radrizzani. The ElevenSports.com platform will launch with a focus on niche premium and long-tail sports content, powered by streaming platform MyCujoo (which Eleven acquired in November 2020).
John West, Team Whistle founder and executive chairman, commented: “Upon first meeting Andrea [Radrizzani] years ago, we shared a common bond on how sport and entertainment were being reimagined and 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 deal close, West will join Eleven Group’s board of directors and Team Whistle CEO Michael Cohen will continue in his current role. All together, Eleven Sports and Team Whistle will have about 300 employees.
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