Left-leaning political video network The Young Turks has raised $20 million in its latest and biggest funding round, with participation by Jeffrey Katzenberg’s venture firm WndrCo. Also backing the startup of former MSNBC anchor and TYT co-founder Cenk Uygur were 3L Capital, Greycroft and e.ventures.
In 2014, TYT received $4 million in backing and executed a Series A funding round in 2015 that yielded $4.25 million. What started as a live radio show now boasts 30,000 paying subscribers and produces about $3.6 million in annual revenue, as The Hollywood Reporter reports.
Earlier this year, Beet.TV interviewed TYT Uygur about the roots of his progressive politics commentary. We are republishing the interview upon the news of his latest funding success.
It began as a live radio show, before the digital age forced it in to an on-demand box. But now The Young Turks, a video broadcaster producing progressive politics commentary, is set to make hay from a return to its live roots.
Sixteen years ago, co-founder Cenk Uygur launched The Young Turks on Sirius radio. since then, it has also built up a huge following for its online videos, with more expansion plans to come. But Uygur says new live broadcasting capabilities from social media operators are lighting up a whole new opportunity for the media network.
“Facebook and YouTube… once they gave their audience the ability to view it, viewers said, ‘Of course I want to watch things live!’,” Uygur says. “I got kicked off a plane and started live-streaming it. All of a sudden, this giant audience across the world is watching this drama unfold. It’s a beautiful, amazing new world.
“The audience has got used to watching it live. Before in digital you’d watch it on-demand. Now you get these pop-ups saying ‘Cenk is live’.”
Case in point – on the day of the 2016 US presidential election, The Young Turks rolled its live broadcast out across its platforms – as hosts’ initial optimism turned to horror at the result. But the outcome nevertheless proved one thing to Uygur.
“On election, we had a million hours of viewing in one day, on YouTube and Facebook Live,” he tells Beet.TV. “That’s when you now that live has arrived.”
And he is now targeting even newer platform opportunities, beyond social, to grow the audience further, like the live online TV app Pluto and “skinny” cable TV bundles that combine traditional and digital brands.
“We’re going to hire a lot more in the days to come, expand our shows, expand the platforms we’re on,” Uygur adds. “We’re going to keep on expanding until our lead is so large it depresses the competition.”