By Sahil Patel
Bigballs Films, the digital media startup behind the independent YouTube soccer channel Copa90, has raised a “multi-million” dollar investment from a group of investors that includes Vevo co-founder and former Sony Music and Bertelsmann executive Thomas Hesse.
Other investors in the round include Michael Jackson, a veteran British TV executive and producer who previously was the chief executive of Channel 4 and controller of BBC One and BBC Two.
“This is a hugely exciting development in the growth story of Bigballs Films, progressing our development of the next global sports networks,” said Tom Thirlwall, chief executive of the company. “It is also a recognition of the value intrinsic to our business model as an online video producer with a strong brand, deep fan engagement and, crucially, ownership of own IP.”
Chief among these owned properties is Bigballs’ Copa90 channel, which has amassed more than 760,000 subscribers by offering soccer-adjacent content — focusing on the fans, players, and stories of the game rather than distributing expensive live and on-demand game footage.
“Among a 16- to 24-year-old audience so highly prized by many brands, Copa90 has become a trusted and fresh voice telling stories our audience want to share, on platforms where they live in formats they love,” said Thirlwall. During the most recent World Cup, the channel, which was on-the-ground in Brazil, boasted brand deals with FIFA World Cup sponsors Adidas and Hyundai.
Overall, Bigballs’ network of YouTube channels reaches more than 1 million subscribers. The company also distributes to the Xbox, and has plans to expand to more platforms and other sports in the future.
Investment analyst Jamie Wood and former Morgan Stanley and UBS executive Gustave Voute also made personal contributions to the round.