Their various social media channels have garnered more than 10 billion views. They claim to have 170 million aggregate subscribers, fans and followers with a growth rate of two million per week. They have big name partnerships including, but not limited to, the NFL, Nascar, Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter. In light of these facts, perhaps it is not surprising that in March 2016, they raised $20 million in Series C funding bringing their total to $60 million since January 2014. Whistle Sports is huge and it is here to stay.
Whistle Sports is a global sports media company that connects brands with its 400+ content creators. John West, the founder of the company, was observing his kids watch TV one day when he realized that the millennial generation watches sports differently. They are not interested in watching a football or baseball game for three hours on the couch passively. This younger, tech-savvy generation is all about engaging with shorter, more exciting and creative content.
So who are these content creators I mentioned? Only some of the biggest and brightest names in the YouTube world. Whistle Sports’ most popular creators include Dude Perfect, Brodie Smith and STRskillSchool, channels with 10 million, 1.4 million, and 1.3 million subscribers respectively on YouTube alone. When you add other channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Vine, almost all of their creators have followers in the double digit millions. If you have never heard of these channels, it’s because Whistle Sports likes to focus more on niche sports such as lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, skateboarding and even billiards.
Check out more of their content creators here.
While you may have never heard of these channels, brands most definitely have. LG partnered with Dude Perfect in 2014 and 2015 to connect with their younger target audience. The group created two trick shot videos using the LG G3 and G4 Smartphone: videos with over 20 million and 12 million views respectively on YouTube. Dude Perfect’s most popular video (see below), to the delight of Hasbro owned Nerf, has over 53 million views. The two parties have most recently partnered to launch a line of co-branded sports toys (Weiss, 2016). Other brands that have worked with Whistle Sports include Sony, Subaru and Gillette: brands that are increasingly targeting 19-34 year old active males (Blattberg, 2015).
What makes Whistle Sports’ creators so attractive to brands is more than just the sheer amount of views and subscribers they have. If you watched Dude Perfect’s Nerf video, you will have noticed that it is relatively short. Even if the viewer does not watch the whole video, the product is incorporated multiple times in the first minute. The most important aspect however is that these creators give brands a way to advertise in a non-advertising way. This point cannot be stressed enough, especially when considering that in a study surveying 1,300 millennials, only 1% said that ads increased their trust for the brand (Schawbel, 2015).
The videos incorporate the products creatively without forcing them into the faces of their audience. Nothing is worse than obvious product placement and it is refreshing to see Whistle Sports’ creators utilizing brands’ products to enhance their videos rather than take away from it.
In a time when millennials trust traditional advertising less, Whistle Sports and its creators provide brands with a more than viable alternative to TV or internet banner ads. Brands can associate themselves with entertaining and memorable content that also happens to be a lot cheaper than 30 second TV ads. Expect more and more brands to turn to Whistle Sports as they try to target the largest and most powerful generation the world has ever seen. The question is not whether brands will begin to advertise more through mediums that Whistle Sports provides, it is when.
Whistle Sports is huge and it is here to stay.