Copa90 moves into the world of streaming video with Go90 deal

Turner-backed Copa90 is looking to partner with streaming platforms and soccer rights-holders on original shows.

On Friday, Sept. 29, Copa90 premiered a new video series on Verizon’s Go90 called “Copa90 Kick-Off.” A weekly soccer news, culture and preview show, “Copa90 Kick-Off” is co-hosted by former MLS All-Star Heath Pearce and former Fox Sports social producer Aaron West. The show is designed to build hype for the live soccer Go90 has the streaming rights to, which includes more than 1,000 live soccer matches per year from European leagues such as Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue One and Italy’s Serie A, as well as international tournaments such as CONMEBOL and CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers.

“Copa90 Kick-Off” is the first of several soccer-themed shows Copa90 plans to air on Go90, as the distributed-media publisher makes its first foray into the world of over-the-top streaming video.

“We’re in talks with Go90 for other shows and [content] packages,” said Tom Thirlwall, CEO of Copa90. “Verizon and Go90 have come out of the gate with a proposition that includes live sports rights. They’re looking to us as a brand and a program-maker that already knows how to make original soccer programs that sit outside of the 90 minutes on the pitch, but can also help bring in an audience for the live rights that they have.”

Copa90, whose parent company received an investment from Turner International earlier this year, has an established background on producing video programming that surrounds pro soccer leagues and tournaments. It has 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, where its weekly soccer recap show “Comments Below” averages 113,000 views and nearly nine minutes of watch time per episode, according to YouTube data provided by Copa90. On Snapchat, Copa90 produces the weekly soccer preview show “Saturdays Are Lit,” which averages 1.1 million views per episode on Bleacher Report’s Snapchat Discover channel in the U.K., Copa90 said.

It’s this skill that Copa90 plans to bring to Go90 with “Copa90 Kick-Off” and other video series the publisher produces for the ad-supported streaming video platform.

“Copa90 Kick-Off” also serves as Copa90’s first original series for streaming — or “over-the-top” — video platform. It’s an area of increasing focus as more digital platforms seek to buy rights to live sports.

Amazon, for instance, is streaming Thursday Night Football games this year for its Amazon Prime subscribers. Twitter held those rights last year. Facebook is streaming live MLB games and reportedly signed a deal with Fox Sports to air some Champions League matches on its platform. Copa90 is looking at all of these platforms as buyers of additional, original soccer programming that supplements the live broadcasts.

“Any platform that’s embracing sports rights, they’re going to need a brand like Copa90 to help establish their sports identity,” said Thirlwall. “We bring those stories outside of the 90 minutes.”

As Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon, Go90 and other platforms seek to buy original video series, one thing Copa90 is not looking to do is focusing on selling individual shows to platform buyers. The goal, instead, is to strike deals that allow the company to grow the Copa90 brand on these platforms, which would include having multiple series and a larger programming strategy than potentially one-and-done show deals.

“What we want to get away from are the platform behaviors that are reminiscent of the old TV days: A series goes up, it completes, a broadcaster tells you whether it worked or not, then a broadcaster tells you whether you have a second season or not,” Thirlwall said. “The focus is on Copa90 as the destination for football fans in North America on these platforms.”

Following the Turner investment, Copa90 has been expanding in the U.S. It’s set up a content team of 30 people in New York, about two-thirds of whom are involved in the production and distribution of all Copa90 content in the U.S. In the U.K., Copa90 is 65-people strong.

“Since closing with Turner, one of the things we have been concentrating on is building an efficient content engine across London and New York that can capture and tell these stories around the clock,” Thirlwall said.

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