Turner International has agreed to acquire a stake in digital media sports company Bigballs Media, which owns the Copa90 football content platform.
The investment – not disclosed, but believed to represent an approximately 15% stake – is the first to be carried out by Turner’s its new international Digital Ventures & Innovation Group, formed late last year as part of plans to develop a direct-to-consumer content business.
The funding will be used to fuel further international growth, develop Bigballs’ data capabilities and to establish Copa90 as the “definitive football youth media brand”, according to a statement.
The platform currently claims to have generated 1.5 billion video views to date, with 12 million subscribers to its social media channels. It has collaborated with brands including Nissan, Hyundai, Adidas and Turkish Airlines, and last week began allowing brands to sponsor its content.
As part of the deal, Turner and Bigballs have signed a content production and distribution partnership, expanding on an existing commercial relationship between Copa90 and Turner’s digital sports brand Bleacher Report.
Aksel van der Wal, the newly-appointed head of Digital Ventures & Innovation, will take a seat on Bigballs’ board of directors, with Bleacher Report chief operating officer Alex Vargas becoming a board observer.
“Partnering with relevant brands is a core part of our strategy to compete and lead in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape,” said van der Wal.
“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. It is exactly the kind of forward-looking partnership we hope to establish more of.”
Tom Thirlwall, chief executive of Bigballs Media, added: “Our ambition is to be the world’s most influential football media business by the time the 2018 World Cup kicks off and this investment and partnership with Turner is a decisive step towards making that a reality.
“We had significant interest in our round but Turner was by far and away the most compelling because of their team, vision and the strategic opportunities for both our businesses.
“The investment will enable us to accelerate our growth in our core markets, build our data and distribution capabilities and expand our commercial teams in Europe and the US and of course continue to make the best fan culture football content.”