UK-Based Eleven Sports Will Acquire Team Whistle, Forming Global Digital Player With Pedigreed Backers

Dade Hayes
·2 min read

UK-based Eleven Sports plans to acquire Team Whistle in a combination of sports-focused content players with a roster of pedigreed investors.

A price tag was not put on the deal, but a press release said pro forma revenue from the two companies are projected to total $300 million for the fiscal year ending June 30.

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Together, the companies have attracted investors like NBC/Sky Sports, Discovery, ITV, Liberty Global, Snap, Tegna and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo. Former athletes like Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning are also in the fold, as are noted entertainment figures Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Elizabeth Murdoch.

Eleven Sports was founded in 2015 by Italian sports and media entrepreneur Andrea Radrizzani, who is chairman and majority owner of Premier League club Leeds United. He also controls investment firm Aser Ventures, which is Eleven’s parent company. Eleven has formed partnerships with more than 150 commercial entities and attracted more than 20 million users drawn by some 30,000 hours of live sports programming. It has rights in Europe and Asia to the Champions League, Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga and domestic rights to the Belgian Pro League, F1, the NBA and the NFL.

Team Whistle, by contrast, has focused on original, on-demand programming and the innately social nature of sports in the digital era. By aligning with top creators like Dude Perfect and F2 Freestylers, it has racked up 629 million social media followers and 4 billion monthly video views. The expanded Eleven Group portfolio will feature a network of OTT and social platforms, proprietary streaming technology, production capabilities, and marketing and brand partnership services.

Ties between Aser Ventures and Team Whistle date back to 2018. Aser invested in Whistle at that time, with Radrizzani joining its board.

“We have long recognized the opportunities for partnership between Team Whistle and the wider Aser portfolio,” Radrizzani said. “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.”

John West, Team Whistle’s founder and executive chairman, said the company principals have “shared a common bond on how sport and entertainment were being reimagined.” As the pace of change accelerates, “joining forces with Eleven allows us to create a truly unique, global media powerhouse.”

After the close of the deal, which is expected in the second quarter, West will join the Eleven Group board of directors. Team Whistle CEO Michael Cohen will continue to lead Team Whistle as a member of the Eleven Group management team. Team Whistle employees will stay on, boosting the combined head count to 300.

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