Turner International has put its money into a digital media sports brand, Bigballs Media (BBM), parent company of the soccer-focused digital network, Copa90.
The funding, secured through Turner’s recently formed Digital Ventures and Innovation Group, will be used to fuel BBM’s international expansion, content production and distribution and is to enhance its data capabilities as it continues to grow, according to a Turner release confirming the investment.
It will also help “fuel further international growth and fully establish Copa90 as the definitive football youth media brand,” the company states.
To date, Copa90 has recorded more than 1.5 billion video views and 12 million subscribers across platforms including YouTube and Snapchat without owning any rights in football. Its successful content formats include FIFA & Chill, Comments Below and Derby Days.
The digital ventures group was launched to focus on opportunities for innovation, development and acquisition. The investment comes within the group’s first month of operations and signals the company’s commitment to increasing its presence in the fast-growing digital sports space.
Turner is the largest provider of funding for the Series B investment round and the main strategic investor in BBM, according to the company.
The deal also encompasses a commercial agreement that is intended to help both Turner and BBM leverage their respective distribution and content-production expertise. The partnership expands on an existing commercial relationship with digital sports brand Bleacher Report, a division of Turner.
The cross-platform commercial agreement includes strategic co-branded content production, the development of third-party branded content and sponsorship opportunities, and content creation for Turner’s own channels. It also facilitates BBM’s close collaboration across the wider Turner portfolio, including Esporte Interativo, Turner Sports and CNN.
Additionally, Aksel van der Wal, head of Digital Ventures and Innovation, will take a seat on BBM’s board of directors, while Alex Vargas, COO of Bleacher Report, will become 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 in a statement.
The investment in BBM is the latest in a series of investments by Turner in the digital space and the first with a company headquartered outside of the U.S. It follows on from similar investments in 2016 in women-focused network Refinery29 and Mashable. The company also acquired a majority stake in iStreamPlanet in 2015.
In addition, Turner recently expanded Bleacher Report and injected new investment in CNN Digital. Internationally, it has launched a suite of new digital-first destinations and apps across the broader digital ecosystem to extend its fan engagement around flagship properties such as CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim.