Commentary

Rattle Of The Sexes: News From Whistle Sports And StyleHaul

Whistle Sports has only been around since 2014, but it’s clear they’ve exploited a niche with millennial (and younger) sports fans. It's noticed that younger viewers are often less interested in the games and more interested in the skill-- more the “parts” than the “sum.”

That little tweak has given Whistle Sports a social reach of 185 million mostly male viewers that grows by 2 million a week, and 750 million monthly views that add up to 1.3 billion minutes a month.  It was among the first ones in on Verizon’s new mobile site, Go90.

At its NewFronts presentation today, co-founder John West touted Whistle Sports’ devotion to “behind the scenes, epic fails and trick shots.” The presentation book-ended neatly with the female-skewing StyleHaul NewFront the night before in which advertisers were shown how the content network’s young stars had an authenticity that could move a lot of lipstick.

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At Whistle Sports, the object of choice were balls, literally and anatomically.

A "Game Report" explainer it handed out notes, “For decades, much of the world thought sports were live games, events, highlights and recaps. For 13-to-24 year olds, sports are about newer and more relatable formats” like dunks and one-on-one “battles” and holy-cow trick shots.

If you played a drinking game at this morning’s presentation based on the number of unbelievable baskets scored via video highlights, you’d have been drunk in the first five minutes, unconscious in ten.

Brian Selander, executive vice president, says an underlying Whistle Sports theme is “competition and discovery.” and by the latter, he means type of sport and the wider world out there.  “This is the first generation that doesn’t have a rigid idea of boundaries. People from different countries are just friends they haven’t met yet,” he said.

That seems a little too poetic but Whistle Sports has heavied up on sports migrating to the U.S., like soccer, and more individualized sports like gymnastics.

About 75% of Whistle Sports viewers are male. And its research says it’s more-or-less regular guys like the Dude Perfect bunch that perform sports stunts,who have more relevance than the pros.  A survey of 1,298 young viewers showed they preferred watching social influencers to watching pro athletes, in five sports.

Whistle Sports introduced six new series, including one produced in partnership with Sky TV based on the British soccer YouTube site F2Freestylers that features high-concept football tricks.   It’s also just announced a  $20 million investment NBC Sports, Gannett’s newly named TV division Tegna, Emil Capital and Sky.

The day before, StyleHaul’s NewFront showed what happens when you’re early to the game. Its 6,500 beauty and style channels have a big chunk of viewers in that market where Style Haul has built a massive presence since 2011. It says it has two billion monthly views and 86 million unique visitors.

At its NewFronts, advertisers were treated to a make-believe marketing meeting in which StyleHaul executives discussed which of their influencer-vloggers would be the best one to carry the pitch for a new cosmetic launch. That kind of straightforward approach was a blunt recognition of how influencers work, well, to influence purchases.

Otherwise StyleHaul announced a virtual reality project, a drama based on the young adult novel, Free to Fall by Lauren Miller; it highlighted a new series featuring singer Pia Mia, the creative director for Madonna’s fashion line, Material Girl, at Macy’s; and it announced a new music and fashion show, "Collide," produced with BMG. 

Possibly as tacit recognition StyleHaul’s viewers are aging too — and if they are, we're all doomed! It said it will debut a new vertical for millennial moms. (Fullscreen made a similar announcement a few days ago.)


pj@mediapost.com

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