People who talk about universal languages never seem to agree. Maybe it’s math. Could be music. Some suggest it’s vulgarities like scowls or the middle finger. In terms of a global language, though, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t soccer — at least outside these 50 states. But KickTV, a YouTube channel focusing entirely on the world’s most popular sport, is making headway in changing that last part.
Started in May of last year, the company is the product of a partnership between Bedrocket Media Ventures, Google, and America’s own Major League Soccer (specifically, MLS’ marketing branch, Soccer United Marketing). KickTV’s general manager, Julien Segui, has been with the company since March of 2012. He explains how “soccer has always been my favorite sport,” adding, “Even when I worked for NBA Entertainment I was always thinking about cross-promotional content ideas, which led me to develop ‘I love this game’ spots with Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, and German legend Lothar Matthaus, just to name a few.”
Since then he’s constructed a network of talent with a variety of shows, but one uniting goal: “Soccer should be fun, social, and for the fans — KickTV puts the voice of the fan first, uniting supporters from different countries and cultures into one global conversation,” says Segui. He sees its YouTube channels delivering “videos with personality, opinion, and the passion of a fan’s perspective” and hosts Jimmy, Rachel, Layla, Hugh and Ryan as “a testament to our diversity.”
It should be mentioned, though, that Jimmy Conrad is as close to the face of KickTV as it gets. He’s a charismatic, funny former member of the US men’s national team who exudes a tangible love of the game and its fans. That love is on display in full force in his endearing “Draw My Life” where he jokes, “Your words of encouragement — like ‘You stupid American [expletive]!’ and ‘It’s called football, you Yankee [expletive]!’ — have given me the confidence to be myself. And I can’t thank you enough for your continued support.”
But KickTV is more than engaging and honest hosts and an unparalleled love of soccer. Segui thinks the channel steadily became the number one soccer channel on YouTube because “We are storytellers and have a team of marketers and bloggers that support all of our videos with custom-made concepts, customized and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.” The organic growth will continue so long as KickTV keeps providing “consistent creative content that inspires our fans,” says Segui.
In terms of actual content, Segui admits that “things move and change fast in our industry.” It’s entirely to the channel’s advantage, though: “However, we don’t shy away from exploring new programming concepts and have no idea how our live shows are going to be perceived — and that’s okay. The great thing about our business is we can change course overnight and allow our audience to dictate what they want to share.”
The newest of those live concepts is KickTV LIVE, which has only been broadcasting since earlier last month but already has close to 5,000 subscribers. Hosted by Jimmy Conrad, it airs on Mondays and Fridays at 1 pm EST, and is characterized by Segui “as a way to preview and recap weekend games, and stay on top of midweek action,” all in a 22-minute long variety-show format. The time slot’s directly aimed at the after-school and post-work European crowd and the mid-lunch American viewers in order to “encourage audience discussion and interaction about the global game,” according to Segui.
KickTV also develops content as new events in the soccer world arise. Consider KickTV’s special edition of “The Hex,” following the US national team on their qualifying road for the 2014 World Cup. Segui hints that there’s more in the works — even for just the upcoming year — saying “We know that we have secured a guaranteed demo and that is going to help us develop a platform surrounding the 2014 World Cup.”
Beyond that earth-consuming event, there’s still more in the pipeline so long as KickTV stays fluent: “I think our fans will continue to follow us if we’re an authentic and community-based soccer channel with a stark alternative to mainstream sports media.”