Elisabeth Murdoch’s Vertical Networks Sold To Whistle

Vertical Networks, a mobile-first digital studio founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, has been acquired by Whistle, a media company that makes sports and entertainment shows for Snapchat.

Murdoch and Vertical Networks investor Snap will acquire equity in Whistle through the all-stock transaction. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Four years ago, Murdoch launched Vertical Networks to capitalize on the growing popularity of mobile video. The studio made its mark producing original programs for Snapchat, such as voyeuristic dating show, Phone Swap — in which two strangers meet on a blind date and inspect the contents of each other’s phones before deciding whether they want to continue seeing one another.

Over time, Vertical Networks began expanding to other digital platforms, as the studio sought new audiences (and more revenue) for its content.

The acquirer, once known as Whistle Sports, attracted viewers with sports lifestyle shows on Snapchat, such as its Whistle Worthy series, which celebrates amateur athletic feats, and the hoop-centric Dunk League.

Earlier this year, Whistle acquired New Form, a company launched with backing from Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and Discovery. That deal helped accelerate Whistle’s development of original scripted and unscripted content.

The Vertical Networks deal further enhances Whistle’s creative portfolio.

News of the deal comes in the same week that Murdoch announced the launch of a new entertainment company, Sister, together with former 20th Century Fox Film chair Stacey Snider and television producer Jane Featherstone. The company is built on Featherstone’s Sister Pictures, the production house behind HBO’s Chernobyl and the British drama Broadchurch.

Murdoch, the daughter of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is the lead investor in Sisters.

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I’m a Los Angeles-based senior editor for Forbes, writing about the companies and people behind the biggest disruption in entertainment since cable TV: streaming video. ...