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Sky invests $7m in Whistle sports MCN

UK pay TV operator BSkyB has invested US$7 million in Whistle Sports, a US-based startup that runs sports-themed YouTube networks.

Barney FrancisSky said that it will work with Whistle Sports to create new content for younger sports fans, particularly “young millennials”.

“Whistle Sports has very quickly established itself in the US 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,” said Sky Sports’ managing director, Barney Francis (pictured).

As of January this year, Whistle Sports’ multichannel network on YouTube claimed more than 8.3 million subscribers across 192 partner channels, with its library of 28,000 videos having been watched more than 1.25 billion times.

Currently Whistle Sports covers sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, American football, skateboarding, and ultimate frisbee, and is based in New York, with offices in Los Angeles and Dallas. However, Whistle said that its new London office will give it “easier access to Europe’s top leagues and athletes.”

“This partnership is a tremendous fit for us, given our focus on international expansion. Sky is a recognised leader in sports entertainment and delivery and brings to the partnership some of the highest quality creative and production teams in sports,” said John West, founder and CEO, Whistle Sports.

Whistle Sports works with sports leagues and franchises to create viral video content using its own talent network, along with sports stars and venues.

As well as YouTube, the firm’s content can also be accessed from an app for Xbox 360 consoles, with Roku and Xbox One apps to follow soon.

Sky’s backing of Whistle marks the latest in a string of startup investments by the firm. Earlier this month Sky invested US$500,000 in US online video aggregator Pluto.TV. It also recently invested US$5 million in US advertising technology firm Sharethrough.

Sky’s other tech investments include web streaming set-top box maker Roku, immersive video specialists Jaunt and the video delivery firm 1 Mainstream.