- Beer brand Heineken USA is partnering with soccer media company Copa90 on a documentary and original show, according to a press release shared with Mobile Marketer. The six-part series, "Hometown," showcases the culture of soccer fans "through the lens of the league's biggest stars," including Josef Martinez, a Venezuelan striker on the Atlanta United. The series is available to stream on Copa90's social channels.
- The partners are creating a fan-led documentary about the new Los Angeles Football Club, the latest expansion in Major League Soccer, per the release. The documentary will highlight LAFC's new stadium, which hosts a Heineken-themed bar built and designed by the team's fans, along with the story of the first game at the new Banc of California Stadium through the eyes of attendees.
- Heineken USA is also sponsoring Copa90's weekly YouTube show "Walk Talk Football" hosted by Heath Pearce, MLS All-Star and former player on the U.S. Men's team. The show runs throughout the MLS season, which began on March 3, and includes a season preview and special episodes during Heineken Rivalry Week in August.
As a globally recognized brand, Heineken wants to be identified with the most international of sports as professional soccer expands throughout the United States, while leveraging the excitement surrounding the new LAFC team and stadium. Major League Soccer has seen growth in live attendance to an average of 22,000 people a game, even as TV viewership lags behind more established professional sports like baseball and football, according to USA Today. Copa90 racks up more than 115 million views a month on social media channels, making it a desirable venue for sponsors like Heineken to capture a large fan base and boost brand reach.
The news comes just one month after Heineken USA named Jonnie Cahill as its new chief marketing officer, replacing Nuno Teles, who is taking over as the president of Diageo's beer division, per Ad Age. Cahill previously was global commerce senior director on the brewer's low and no alcohol brands. He likely will face challenges in the U.S. beer market, which has been flat or declining for several years, a potential reason why Heineken is ramping up its partnership efforts to leverage massive sports fan bases like those of MLS.
Meanwhile, YouTube TV recently scored exclusive rights to show live LAFC games in an unprecedented move, as this is the first time a streaming video service has made such a deal with a U.S. team instead of a traditional TV broadcaster. YouTube TV was started with a mobile-first strategy in April 2017, recognizing that more than half of viewers watch video content on a smartphone or tablet. Its deal with LAFC may also indicate that sports teams will begin choosing streaming services instead of traditional local partners like affiliate stations or regional sports networks as more consumers shift their sports media consumption to mobile alternatives.