EXCLUSIVE: Whistle, a rising sports and entertainment content entity repped by CAA, has set a deal to acquire New Form, the content outfit launched in 2014 with backing from investors such as Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Discovery.
The companies declined to reveal terms of the deal, but said it involved a cash investment by New Form in exchange for equity in the combined company. Howard, Grazer, Discovery and other stakeholders such as ITV and agency vet Jim Wyatt, will have equity in Whistle, and a majority of them invested cash into the new entity.
The deal accelerates Whistle’s efforts to scale development and production of original scripted and unscripted content. It follows a number of recent content announcements from both companies, including Whistle’s first documentary series for Quibi, Benedict Men, executive produced by Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media. New Form also just set a daily docuseries for Facebook Watch, 365 Days of Love, featuring and executive produced by Sofia Vergara.
“It was a great match from the start,” said John West, Whistle’s CEO and founder. “With New Form’s content slate, we are excited to build a bigger portfolio to serve our ever-growing global audience and distribution partners.”
At latest count, Whistle had 518 million subscribers, followers and fans generating 2.1 billion views across all Whistle channels. It has existing short-form series franchises like Whistle Worthy and No Days Off, which will be added to New Form projects like TXT Stories, which are filmed entirely through groupchat. Those and other properties will be developed with an eye toward long-form IP in the mode of New Form series such as Mr. Student Body President and Final Space.
Since launching in 2014, Whistle has raised over $100 million from investors including Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, Aser Media, Liberty Global, NBC Sports, Sky Sports and Tegna.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this venture with our friends at Whistle and New Form,” said Bruce Campbell, chief development, distribution and legal officer for Discovery. “They are proven winners, and as a combined company, they will only continue to grow at an accelerated rate.”
New Form CEO Kathleen Grace and COO JC Cangilla have built the company since it was founded in 2014. Grace and the creative team, who developed and produced more than 30 original series in the past four years, will continue to lead the production and development slate and will take on new projects under the Whistle leadership. All productions currently in the works will proceed as planned. Grace will report to Michael Cohen, president of Whistle.
“New Form’s track record for producing quality content continues as we work with the best in the business, from TBS to Facebook Watch. We believe we will be stronger as we tap into Whistle’s experienced creators to develop premium series for all platforms and further accelerate the growth of our business,” said Grace.