SBJ/Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2013/Media

NASCAR aboard with youth digital brand Whistle in equity deal

NASCAR has become the latest league to align with youth sports digital programmer The Whistle, taking a minority equity position in the company in exchange for supplying video content and other assets to the media venture.

The Whistle’s deal with NASCAR is similar to ones struck with the NFL, PGA Tour and Major League Lacrosse. NASCAR will provide the company access to race highlights, behind-the-scenes footage and legacy content, and aid in the development of new programming. Content will appear on The Whistle’s distribution platforms, including online, mobile, YouTube and via connected gaming consoles.

NASCAR is looking to engage a young audience through The Whistle’s platforms.
The NASCAR footage on The Whistle, predictably, will not contain instructional segments like the network has for other sports, but it will veer sharply into personality-driven material.

“I think they saw a real opportunity to take the helmet off on these drivers and expose their personalities to a younger demographic,” said Jeff Urban, The Whistle co-founder and chief marketing officer.

“NASCAR has made the youth audience an important target for them going forward, and we’re pleased to be a piece of that strategy,” he said.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal revolves significantly around NASCAR’s gaining equity in the company in exchange for allowing access to the video content and assets. Urban said there was not a concern over diluting the company’s equity amid the steady series of league-level deals.

“These are minority positions, and even if you added them all up, it would still be a minority position,” Urban said. “But these are valuable partners, and we want to be aligned with the best properties to help us develop the most authentic content.”

Other investors in the The Whistle include former MLB President Bob DuPuy, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Clear Channel Communications Chief Executive Bob Pittman, among others. The company also is aligned on a non-equity basis with the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Soccer, the Harlem Globetrotters and IndyCar Entertainment, among others.

“Kids are more likely to be on other platforms than our own [web] site, so we’ve been aggressive on Facebook, aggressive on Twitter, aggressive on YouTube,” said Marc Jenkins, NASCAR vice president of digital media. “So we see partnering with The Whistle as another great way to engage the youth audience where they’re going to be.”

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