SBJ/June 4-10, 2012/Olympics

USOC, Whistle sign content deal

The U.S. Olympic Committee has struck a cross-platform content and distribution agreement with The Whistle, the startup sports content developer aimed at children and backed by a group of sports and entertainment luminaries.

In the deal, The Whistle will create a series of Olympic-themed shows highlighting the Olympic movement and American athletes, positioned at the brand’s core demographic of children ages 6-16. Content will air on the NBC Sports Network, thewhistle.com, teamusa.org, YouTube, and on channels distributed through video gaming console platforms, including Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal was structured primarily as a licensing pact in which The Whistle paid the USOC for rights to create Olympic-themed programming. “We want to have additional, relevant content for younger audiences, and this is a group that understands what it takes to be compelling to this age group,” said John Pierce, USOC managing director for brand management and research.

Helping pave the way toward the deal was The Whistle’s relationship with NBC Sports, longtime U.S. TV rights holder for Olympic programming.

For The Whistle, the deal builds upon a similar pact struck earlier this year with the NFL. After an initial business plan created last year based on launching a dedicated, 24-hour linear TV network, The Whistle has since scrapped that course in favor of a more disparate, digitally focused distribution network that includes the Web, mobile platforms and gaming consoles.

The company — whose backers include star athletes Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter, former Major League Baseball president and current Foley & Lardner partner Bob DuPuy, and Clear Channel Communications Chairman Bob Pittman — is targeting a formal launch Sept. 21 to coincide with a return to school in most U.S. markets.

“We’re obviously going league by league looking to expand our content opportunities, and the USOC was one that got the idea right away, and represents a natural fit for us,” said Jeff Urban, The Whistle co-founder and chief marketing officer.

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