Uniting one million football fans from around the world is no mean feat. Copa90 have done this by creating a place for football fans to congregate and appreciate what happens in the football world after the final whistle, and they’re still moving forwards.
Copa90 kicked off on YouTube in 2012, and in three years has grown to become the biggest and brightest place for football culture on the platform. With three major tournaments attended, and over 100 cities visited, Copa90 have uncovered football rituals, fandoms and personalities from around the world. Here we look at four strategies that have driven Copa90’s success.
#1: Be global
Copa90 realised early that in order to appeal to a global audience, they had to travel to football stories around the world. Together the team have made videos across five continents, working with supporters’ groups, clubs and players; attending matches and tournaments and playing on the streets.
Of all the content Copa90 produce, it is their in-depth documentaries about clubs around the world which resonate best with international audiences, with the fans of the clubs profiled and the locals making up lots of the viewership. To maximise this, the team make sure they have a robust distribution strategy in place so that the content is shared within the networks of those who’ll find it most compelling.
Still from Brazil’s Craziest Fans - in Curitiba, filmed with the fans and on the streets of Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. 88% of the shares of this video came from Brazil.
The channel is headquartered in the UK, but 79% of their subscriber base come from outside of their home territory, a good payoff for their commitment to global programming.
#2: Make fans the hero
In their own words, Copa90 are “on a mission to reclaim football for the fans by creating the home of global football culture: for football fans, by football fans”. This mission is front and centre everywhere on Copa90, regularly repeated as a mantra by the hosts - all football fans themselves - and is an anchor in their content.
Still from This Is Bayern Munich - a documentary filmed with Bayern fans in Munich (131k views)
In-game highlights and archive footage have never been part of Copa90’s offering, and this is never expected by the viewers. Instead, videos focus on what happens after the 90 minutes is up - tackling everything from homophobia, football agents and ticket prices to football tattoos, gaming and World Cup memes.
In addition to rich content about football culture, the channel is inherently interactive. The long-running format Comments Below is built entirely around fan opinions and comments, and accounts for more than two thirds of the engagement on the channel as fans seek to be a part of the action.
This format is key to the success of Copa90 and the team rely on a strong schedule and quick turnaround - filming, scripting and editing all in 24 hours following the weekend’s matches. And they don’t stop with Comments Below: the team run a survey of their fanbase every year, to make sure they understand their viewers and are making the right content.
Still from an episode of Comments Below, a weekly interactive show featuring the best questions and debate points from the Copa90 community. Strong calls-to-action in every episode encourage fans to engage and return each week to watch.
#3: Deliver a slate of diverse programming
Since September 2012, Copa90 have experimented with over 20 different formats to find those that resonate most with viewers. This strategy means they’ve been able to identify and produce different sets of content, all which perform different roles for them: short, accessible formats which appeal to casual viewers and drive audience growth, and longer, detailed formats which are appreciated by die-hard football fans and long-term viewers.
Three years in this has resulted in a balanced viewership pattern on their channel; they see traffic from many different sources, which means they have a very sustainable presence on the platform. By not relying on a single traffic source and splitting in this way, they are in far less danger of seeing sudden drop-offs.
Copa90 have also been well aware of the importance of collaboration in growing a sustainable audience. The team have always been watchful of YouTube content trends and have a great understanding of how people watch, who and where, and have worked with other creators like FoodTube, the Lean Machines and KSI to integrate new content themes and formats into their offering.
Now, Copa90 have three regular formats, and still allow room in their programming for one-offs - something which allows them both to continue to test and iterate, but also to collaborate with brands and other YouTube creators outside of their regular scheduled videos.
#4: Get yourself embedded in the football community
Copa90 are well aware of the power of the football community conversation all round the internet, and have managed to successfully harness this with a large time investment off-platform. They’ve been building their #copafam - the channel’s own twelfth man - since launch and have now amassed over 2 million members across non-YouTube platforms.
The Copa90 communities and social platforms are a key part of everything they produce, and the production team consider how each platform plays into the story of every episode. As well as the episode, they produce teaser content for Twitter, trailers for Facebook, hold live behind-the-scenes on Snapchat, all constantly pushing back to YouTube to continue to grow their subscriber base there.
With these efforts in building a strong community and participating in conversations, they are constantly introducing themselves, their videos and their mission to new audiences.
Copa90 have cemented themselves as the home of football culture on YouTube by putting themselves at the heart of the global football fan community. They’ve travelled the world to meet fans and tell their stories and have held a two-way conversation wherever they go.
Through testing different formats along the way they’ve been able to build a sustainable presence on YouTube which continues to grow in size and diversity.