Relevent Sports Group has spent the last six years bringing Europe’s biggest soccer clubs to the U.S., highlighted by the storied matchups that have featured in the International Champions Cup such as the ‘El Clásico’ rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the Manchester derby between Manchester United and Manchester City.
This year, the company is kicking off what will become an annual seven-figure investment into content production around its tournaments and the teams that play in it – beginning with a deep-dive into the fiercest rivalry the men’s ICC tournament will feature in 2019.
Relevent Sports Group is working with soccer media company Copa90 to create a special edition of its Derby Days series that will focus on the Madrid Derby between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid. The two clubs, which have faced each other 222 times including in the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final – the first time two clubs from the same city have played in the final – will bring the rivalry to the U.S. for the first time on July 26 with a match at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Alongside that match this summer, Copa90 and Relevent Sports Group will release ‘Derby Days: ICC’s Madrid Derby in NYC,’ a four-part docu-series that will introduce and explain to fans the rivalry that exists in Madrid.
While this is the first byproduct of Relevant Sports Group’s new investment into content production, more than four other high-profile projects are expected to be launched over the next few months, said Daniel Sillman, CEO of Relevent Sports Group.
“When we help to bring these global clubs and their brands to the states, our focus is on making sure that we give fans at the matches a first-class experience,” Sillman said. “This new investment is about making that content beyond the stadium first class, delivering fans more stories and access to these players and clubs than we ever have before.”
In March, Relevent Sports Group hired Kevin Wildes to serve as its executive producer, overseeing its content strategy and production across each of the men’s, women’s and youth ICC tournaments. Wildes, who most recently was an executive producer at ABC where he oversaw the launch of the Good Morning America extension ‘GMA Day,’ had previously spent more than a decade at ESPN where he produced shows such as NBA Countdown, The Jump hosted by Rachel Nichols, Kobe Bryant’s ESPN+ Detail show and SportsNation.
Sillman said the goal is to launch a “full-blown storytelling business,” which would create content ranging from in-depth documentaries to short-form content designed for mobile consumption.
“We look at the ICC as an entertainment franchise,” Sillman said. “We’ve had these expansions into women’s and youth soccer, and we view this as another way to engage with fans on a year-round basis.”
While Sillman declined to comment on all of the programming that will appear around this year’s ICC as some of it is still being developed, there are several short-form and long-form documentaries in the works.
The aspiration for Relevent Sports Group going forward will be to produce all of this content in-house, while working with partners such as Copa90 on select projects. However, he said, Relevent Sports Group is still determining elements of its content strategy, and will be using the next six to 12 months as an opportunity to collect data and learn what most interests fans.
Relevent Sports Group is aiming to make this line of its business a revenue generator, with Sillman saying he foresees this content not only reaching the U.S. and Chinese fans that attend ICC matches in-person, but also the millions of fans across the globe that these clubs and players have. However, for now, the focus is on giving fans more quality content.
“Right now for us, it’s less about the revenue and more about building our content out to deliver more for our fans around our package of events,” Sillman said. “This is all part of the shift of the focus of our business from being an event producer to being an entertainment business – we will continue to invest across the board to achieve that.”