ELEVEN SPORTS agrees to acquire global media company Team Whistle

30 March 2021 | Broadcasting & New Media
ELEVEN SPORTS agrees to acquire global media company Team Whistle
ELEVEN SPORTS is delighted to announce the acquisition of New York-based global sports media and entertainment company Team Whistle, in a move that expands ELEVEN’s operations to North America and accelerates the Group’s plans to create a global sports media destination. The deal is subject to HSR approval.

The acquisition will bring together ELEVEN SPORTS’ 150+ commercial partners, 20million+ users and 30,000hours of LIVE sport each year; with Team Whistle’s slate of original programming, 1,655 distribution channels, 629 million aggregated social media followers and 4billion monthly video views. The ELEVEN Group will house an extensive network of OTT and social platforms; proprietary streaming technology; data driven production capabilities; and marketing and brand partnership services.

 

The newly expanded ELEVEN Group is building on the strong performance of ELEVEN SPORTS’ operations in Europe and Asia and Team Whistle in North America, in the face of Covid-19. Pro forma revenues for the combined Group will be in excess of US$300million for the financial year ending June 30th, 2021.

 

ELEVEN SPORTS and Team Whistle will focus on continuing to grow the Group’s offering in the months ahead - securing more LIVE sports content and developing new on-demand sports and entertainment programming - to lay the foundations for a global ELEVEN sports and entertainment network. 

 

The ELEVEN Group’s shared mission is to build a service that delivers for fans everywhere, across multiple channels. From LIVE coverage of the world’s biggest sporting events, to local sport for underserved communities of fans, to on-demand programming from Team Whistle's award winning original content and leading creators such as Dude Perfect and F2 Freestylers. ELEVEN’s plans for a world-wide network began with the acquisition of streaming platform MyCujoo in November 2020. The acquisition of MyCujoo is the basis for a new global ElevenSports.com platform, which will launch with a focus on niche-premium and longtail sport. Welcoming Team Whistle to the Group is another key milestone in realising ELEVEN’s international ambitions.

 

ELEVEN’s parent company, the sports and media investment platform Aser Ventures, first identified opportunities for synergy with Team Whistle three years ago. Aser invested in Whistle in June 2018 and Aser’s founder Andrea Radrizzani joined the Whistle board. 

 

Andrea Radrizzani, Founder of ELEVEN SPORTS and parent company Aser Ventures, said of ELEVEN’s acquisition of Team Whistle: “We have long recognised the opportunities for partnership between Team Whistle and the wider Aser portfolio. 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. We will also be adding transformative new scale and capabilities to ELEVEN. Together, we look forward to delivering on our goal of creating a global destination for LIVE and on-demand sports content for audiences everywhere to enjoy.” 

 

John West, Team Whistle Founder and Executive Chairman, added: “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.” 

 

Luis Vicente, ELEVEN SPORTS Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “At ELEVEN we are committed to building a world leading sports and entertainment ecosystem for fans and partners around the world. Team Whistle will play a huge part in helping us to deliver on that mission.” 

Michael Cohen, Team Whistle Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are excited to join such a talented group of people who share our vision of media and collaborative culture. We have a long history of successfully working together and with ELEVEN's deeper partnership we will be able to rapidly accelerate our growth."

ELEVEN SPORTS is an award winning sports platform, founded by leading Italian sports and media entrepreneur Andrea Radrizzani in 2015. 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 longtail live sport. 

 

Team Whistle is a pioneer in the data-driven creation and distribution of positive and relatable content in sports and entertainment for young audiences globally. Team Whistle’s proven portfolio of unscripted, scripted and interactive shows are available across its expansive social and AVOD media distribution network. The company’s video content IP and audience combined with its powerful analytical, production and commercial capabilities serve to help brands, distributors, talent, sports leagues and media companies activate and engage consumers across the content ecosystem.

 

Team Whistle will strengthen ELEVEN’s leadership team, following completion of the deal. Team Whistle Founder and Executive Chairman John West will join the ELEVEN Group Board of Directors. Team Whistle CEO Michael Cohen will continue to lead Team Whistle and join the ELEVEN Group Management team. Team Whistle’s talented team will be welcomed into ELEVEN, bringing the Group to a combined 300 employees.

 

ELEVEN SPORTS and Team Whistle’s investors currently include Sapphire Sport, Go4itCapital, Carsten Thoma, NBC/Sky Sports, Discovery, ITV, Liberty Global, Snap, Emil Capital Partners, Corrum Capital, TEGNA, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Elizabeth Murdoch.

 

The transaction is expected to close by the second quarter of 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions. BofA Securities acted as financial advisor to the ELEVEN Group for this transaction.

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