The production company behind Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage have announced that they are diversifying into new areas.
Whisper Films, whose current sports portfolio includes the W Series, Sail GP and F1, will simply be known as Whisper moving forward.
As part of the diversification effort a new brand, The Whisper Group, will oversee the complete portfolio. The group aims to move beyond sport into other areas, such as entertainment and factual.
Alongside Whisper sits Whisper Wales (based in Cardiff) and Whisper West (based in Maidenhead). The wider group have also partnered with graphics agency Chapter 3 Graphics and entertainment arm East Media.
Sunil Patel, Jake Humphrey, and David Coulthard created Whisper Films nine years ago, the trio and the rest of the Whisper family marking the expansion with an event in BT Tower, where their new branding was unveiled.
Speaking to me at the event, Patel explained the reasoning for the change. “For too long, I believe sports production companies have been penned in as ‘one trick ponies’. I believe there is so much talent in the sports genre, which we can port over to other genres,” Patel said.
“We believe that we should be a destination for the best talent in the industry. One day they could be doing sport, next day they could be doing factual entertainment, specialist factual, design. It’s about creating a home for people to move around in.”
Whisper have several original projects in the works, whilst a variety of non-factual documentaries, such as Fergie versus Wenger and Klopp versus Poch, have played out on Channel 4 and Channel 5 recently.
Channel 4 F1 platform has “helped us belong”
Patel reflected on Whisper’s coverage of Formula 1 for Channel 4, which they have been producing since the start of 2016.
“Channel 4 Formula 1 has helped us belong,” Patel said. “There’s no better showcase than Formula 1 every other weekend. Everyone looks at that, and that’s a showcase of our work, we own the moment.”
“Our creativity is at the forefront, it’s constantly being looked at and analysed, by people like yourself pulling it apart, for the right reasons.”
“You can do the best pitch in the world when you’re trying to win new business but, there’s nothing better than what you’re doing, because that’s the showcase.”
Patel, who told me that Whisper remain committed to the sporting arena moving forward, is comfortable with the risk taken.
“It is a calculated risk. What we’re not doing is moving myself into entertainment, or Mark Cole [ex BBC Sport, now Head of Television at Whisper] into entertainment,” he said. “We’re bringing in people who know that field.”
“Our Chief Operating Officer Julie Porter used to run Strictly Come Dancing, and has a huge entertainment background. She had the choice of going to The Voice when it first launched, sticking with Strictly or coming to Whisper when we were nothing, before even one of our first big gigs, producing DTM on ITV4 in 2011, had aired.”
“Julie made that jump over to us. We’ve got lots of people who know that field, and we can turbo charge that with our energy, our passion, our desire to be the best we can be.”
The core underlying message from Whisper last night was that the last nine years formed chapter one of the Whisper journey.
Chapter two, which begins now, will see The Whisper Group embark on a much bigger journey beyond the sporting landscape.