Brian Selander, executive vice president at the Whistle Sports Network, believes digital media is the future thanks to the growth of the audience and time spent on the platforms.
"Linear (traditional TV) does make sense for a buy, but it just makes more sense to supplement that on digital," Selander said. "The digital/social audience is growing substantially, and the number of time spent on those platforms is growing as that audience shifts as well."
Still, Whistle — whose investors include Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, BSkyB, Liberty Global, NBC Sports Ventures and Tenga — may have started as a digital sports network, but has since branched into TV. Its ultimate Frisbee champion Brodie Smith was a competitor on "The Amazing Race." In April, it debuted the "The Dude Perfect Show" on CMT.
The first episode featured L.A. Clippers' Chris Paul and Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers making nearly impossible shots on behalf of their charities. The event was sponsored by State Farm Insurance. It ranked number two across cable in its time slot for males ages 12 to 17 with a 1.29 rating. Overall, it was network's highest-rated original series premiere among teens.
However, the content is far from new. The clip was originally posted on YouTube in December, and has been viewed more than 11.1 million times on the platform.
Selander points out that having its digital talent on the small screen is more than just about the immediate TV ad revenue, but about showing crossover appeal. In the end, it helps Whistle's business. Brands find their talent more attractive for deals because they can reach a larger mainstream audience.
"Originally they called Dude Perfect 'YouTubers,'" he said. "Then they were able to dominate Facebook, Instagram and Vine. It wasn't just the format of YouTube. It was their ability to relate and ability to connect. Them being able to succeed on linear TV is really about them as talent, not just what screen you enjoy them on."
Disclosure: NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC, is an investor in Vox Media. It also owns NBC Sports Ventures, an investor in Whistle Sports.