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Whistle to launch OTT sports network, joining crowded field

Thomas Barrabi

Digital media firm Whistle is set to launch a 24-hour “over-the-top” sports channel on streaming platforms in the coming months, company executives announced at the NAB Show in New York on Thursday.

Dubbed WhistleTV, the service will feature a variety of on-demand content, including movies, documentaries and niche sports league events. The over-the-top, or OTT, channel will be ad-supported and free to access for viewers.

Whistle said it would announce distributors for its digital channel in the coming days. The company tapped Griffin Gmelich, a former Hulu executive, to serve as its executive vice president of OTT and content.

“We’re looking forward to expanding Whistle’s content offerings to the linear OTT space and are pleased that WhistleTV will bring a new slate of diversified IP to market,” Gmelich said in a statement. “Whistle’s deep portfolio of existing and new franchises, as well as talent-infused content, will meet audiences everywhere they consume content, whether it be on social and soon to be in linear, too.”

The OTT channel was unveiled just weeks after Whistle announced its acquisition of Vertical Networks, a mobile content studio founded by Elisabeth Murdoch and backed by Snap Inc. Whistle’s investors including Hollywood director Ron Howard, Discovery and ITV, according to Deadline.

It’s unclear of WhistleTV will be available as a standalone app as well as other streaming platforms.

WhistleTV will join an increasingly crowded field of sports streaming services, most of which are subscription-based. Prominent channels including ESPN+, Bleacher Report’s B/R Live, and Sports Illustrated TV.

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Leading tech firms, including Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet-owned YouTube, have also made sizable investments in streaming sports content.

Elisabeth Murdoch is the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, the Fox Corp. founder and chairman. Fox Corp. is the parent company of FOX Business.

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