Derek Jeter's Players' Tribune expands into Europe

(Reuters) - Players’ Tribune, the three-year-old digital media company owned by former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, is expanding into Europe and looking to sign deals with networks, online streaming services and other content distributors, executives told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: May 14, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter throws out the ceremonial first pitch after a pre-game ceremony retiring his number 2 in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before taking on the Houston Astros. Mandatory Credit: Kathy Willens/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The New York-based company, which has raised $58 million in funding, is looking to appeal to global advertisers and content distributors such as television networks and online streaming services like Netflix, said Jeff Levick, chief executive officer.

The company, which just started producing branded content last year, said it has signed several seven-figure deals.

It has also signed deals with brands including Procter & Gamble Co and Samsung. Terms of those deals were not disclosed. The company declined to provide revenue numbers.

“We have shown that not only can we get global athletes but we can tell their stories,” said Levick, the former chief revenue officer of Spotify who joined Players’ Tribune last year as its first CEO.

Players’ Tribune in April will open offices in Barcelona and London and will launch in Europe this spring to coincide the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Given the popularity of athletes, particularly soccer players in Europe, expanding abroad makes sense, Levick said.

Unlike the U.S. site which has primarily focused on text, the European site will feature more video, Levick said.

Players’ Tribune is working with Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique and his investment group Kosmos, to grow the business in Europe and bring athletes’ stories to the platform, Pique said.

Players’ Tribune is also doing shows, including a talk show that will be hosted by Pique.

Jeter started Players’ Tribune to allow his fellow athletes to tell their stories. For example, last year, National Basketball Association point guard Isaiah Thomas wrote a first-person essay about the difficulties he experienced when the Boston Celtics traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers later traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Players’ Tribune is expanding into Europe and looking to grow revenue at a time when more advertisers are looking for “brand safe” environments where their messages will not be in danger of being juxtaposed to untoward content nearby, Levick said.

Players’ Tribune has about 3 million unique users a month, a fraction of those at sports sites like ESPN, which averages 85-95 million unique visitors per month.

But the audience is engaged, Levick said. Players’ Tribune averages 150 million content views a month and a viewer spends on average eight minutes on the site.

(This version of the story corrects to add ’ to Players’ Tribune; clarifies that company has not disclosed value of Samsung and P&G ad deals)

Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; Editing by David Gregorio