Whistle Sports: Reaching the New Young Demo

John%20West_Photo%20Credit%20Whistle%20SportsWhistle Sports, the entertainment media brand that creates, curates and distributes content for young audienceshas just raised over $28 million in funding led by global investment company Aser. Whistle Sports CEO John West talks about reaching and engaging young sports fans in new ways.

Cynopsis: How is engaging young audiences different today than, say, 10 years ago? 

John West:Very, very different. Today’s young generation has grown up with a decade of Facebook and YouTube, so they are wired to be social. If they can’t engage – comment, like and share – the media experience is not authentic. Social is their first screen, and friends sharing a video is their main discovery mechanism.

Cynopsis: What kind of content most resonates with the demo?

West: Based on Whistle Sports’ proprietary research with Cassandra in May 2018, 12-24 year olds want to laugh, learn and be inspired. They are far less interested in profanity, fail videos, crude humor and sexualized content.

During 2017 Q4 and 2018 Q1, content that is funny or amazing/inspirational performed best on Whistle Sports social channels. For 17Q4-18Q1, top performing “entertainment utilities” on Whistle Sports social channels:


  1. Comedy
  2. Inspire
  3. Amaze


  1. Inspire
  2. Amaze
  3. Comedy
Original program F2 Finding Football (Chris Macchi/Whistle Sports)

Original program F2 Finding Football (Chris Macchi/Whistle Sports)

Cynopsis: What misperceptions do you see about young audiences?

West:Today’s young audiences are very different from recent generations in that:

They are much more positive:48% of 13-17 males say people should only post positive things online vs. 33% of 18-33 males (Y-Pulse, May 2016)

They don’t want to be put into the old, pre-existing buckets:43% of 13-17 year olds “don’t like to be categorized” as straight or gay vs. 32% of 18-33 year olds (Y-Pulse, Nov. 2015)

YouTube isn’t another social media platform for them, it’s their TV:79% of 13-17 males watch YouTube at least weekly, including 60% who use it daily (Y-Pulse, Jan. 2018); and 13-17 males watch YouTube twice as much as they watch Netflix (40% vs. 20% share of time), a significantly higher ratio than older U.S. males (29% vs. 17%) (Cassandra Report)

Sports mean something different to them:59% of 14-17 males say it’s hard to classify what is and what is not a sport today (Cassandra Report)

They’re split evenly on yesterday’s and tomorrow’s athletics:48% of 13-24 males are interested in watching “non-traditional sports” vs. 52% who are interested in “traditional sports” (Whistle Sports proprietary research with Cassandra, May 2018)

Cynopsis: What are the benefits to both sides in the Whistle Sports/Aser collaboration?

West: Aser, which owns ELEVEN SPORTS, is a like-minded company that realizes engaging today’s sports fans is very segmented by age and media preferences: Under 25 – social media; 25-40 – OTT; 40+ – linear TV. Today’s young fans have a global appetite for sports fandom and following. Aser, who is especially strong in the European and Asian markets, has rights to live sports in 10 countries and is growing rapidly. They also have a global OTT offering. Whistle Sports will augment that with a large audience on social media, and together we will reach all age demos with a global footprint.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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