Turner’s International venture arm is growing its digital sports presence across the pond with a new strategic investment in BigBalls Media and soccer network Copa90.
Copa90 set up shop as part of YouTube’s original channels initiative in 2012 and has since grown to 1.2 million subscribers and nearly 200 million views. It’s known for celebrating the culture of football (soccer for those U.S. readers) and its fans.
The funding will be aimed at helping the Europe-based brand expand internationally in production and distribution of original programming but the real value comes from leveraging Turner’s existing media brands which include Esporte Interativo, Turner Sports, CNN and the Bleacher Report, a divsion of Turner groomed as its own digital media entity after it was acquired in 2012 by Turner-parent, Time Warner.
“Bleacher Report and Copa90 share a passion for global soccer fan culture. Our hugely popular “Saturdays Are Lit” Snapchat collaboration has set a great benchmark for the kind of exciting opportunities we expect to develop together,” added Alex Vargas, COO of Bleacher Report. Vargas will also take a board seat at the company alongside Aksel van der Wal, executive vice president, Digital Ventures & Innovation, for Turner International, as part of the deal.
According to the announcement, Turner and BigBalls Media will also co-partner on branded entertainment opportunities that take advantage of the media scale and reach of Turner’s portfolio as well as Copa90’s youth audience.
“Partnering with relevant brands is a core part of our strategy to compete and lead in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape,” said Aksel van der Wal, executive vice president, Digital Ventures & Innovation, for Turner International, in a statement, adding: “We see really exciting opportunities to work with BBM in developing creative ways to engage new audiences, in particular expanding our growing touchpoints with millennials while also offering innovative new platforms for advertisers.”
The news comes at a time when sports viewing has begun to shift more heavily toward digital streaming platforms and digital MVPD’s. Among those seeing strong viewership against sports are category-leader Whistle Sports, Verizon’s go90, and even ESPN, though the company lost over 2 million subscribers in 2016.
Outside of the sports and international categories, Turner has recently invested in U.S. digital media brands Refinery29 and Mashable.