Soccer promoter Relevent Sports gets into smart speakers

Relevent Sports wants to bring more soccer content to the Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice products.

The sports media company, which is behind the International Champions Cup and other soccer tournament series, is partnering with digital consulting firm Rain to create new, multilingual voice content for platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Google AI and Apple’s Siri.

A few initiatives are already in development including features that make it easier for fans to keep track of when and how to watch different games from around the world. The companies are also working on educational audio programming, including interview series with top coaches that dive deep into the history of various aspects of soccer. Relevent and Rain will also work with professional teams, players and managers on virtual coaching tutorials for amateur coaches and players, which would cover everything from game strategies to training methods.

Relevent executives say their main goal is to promote European soccer — including the players, teams and leagues — to fans in the U.S. and Asia. With more people buying Amazon Echo, Google Home and other virtual assistant-enabled devices, Relevent sees an opportunity to bring soccer content and information to a growing audience.

“We firmly believe that we will use voice to do a lot more than we can even anticipate today,” said Danny Sillman, CEO of Relevent Sports. “And while I’m sure ESPN and and other media companies will do more with voice, but there’s a white space right now for us to be the trusted authority on these platforms, especially as it relates to European soccer.”

With its International Champions Cup series, Relevent Sports puts on matches in the U.S. that routinely feature big-time clubs such as Barcelona and Chelsea. Through a partnership with Spain’s La Liga, Relevent Sports also created La Liga America, which oversees the live sports and other distribution rights to the Spanish league in the U.S. and Canada.

Rain, meanwhile, is a growing consulting firm focusing on voice and artificial intelligence products. In the past, the agency has worked on products such as an adventure game for Warner Bros., a trivia game for the NFL and a voice Elmo with Sesame Street.

The Rain deal is doing to run for at least five years, Sillman said, as the two partners develop, iterate and release different voice programming and features. The relationship on the Relevent side will be handled by a committee of five executives, with further assistance from a 10-person growth marketing team headed up by former NFL executive Aidan Lyons.

And Relevent sees voice and its partnership with Rain as a marketing investment — though it’s not ruling out that at some point in the future it can sell merchandise, branded content and find other ways to create revenue from voice.

“This is a new territory — we don’t know what the revenue model looks like,” Sillman said. “We’re launching with the intent that this is a new way to connect with fans. The value right now is in the data — who they are, what they’re using, who their favorite clubs are, what type of merch they’re interested in. The commercial opportunity will be something that matures as we go along.”

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