Once merely a YouTube haven for Major League Soccer supporters, KickTV has grown to become a daily stop for soccer/football/futbol fans from all around the world. The channel launched on February 15, 2012, and it currently has over 352,000 global digital subscribers and over 131 million page views. The channel has received help from numerous sources over the past eleven months, including a group of YouTube users who made their names thanks to the most popular soccer video game series ever created.
Those at KickTV set out to make the channel a unique experience for fans from the very beginning. "In a way," explained KickTV Marketing Director Will McDonough, "you could almost say that we are presenting content in a way that's never been done before. You can get a lot of different kinds of content online, especially around the world of soccer, but most of that ends up being highlights, highlights that have been poached from different places online, and (the websites that host those highlights) hope that the videos don't get taken down. What we at KickTV are trying to do is get out there and create something that's different; different for the American soccer fan and also for soccer fans in general."
Don't get the wrong idea about KickTV. The channel does feature video highlights from multiple leagues. KickTV, which is 100 percent funded by Major League Soccer, also has original shows that are uploaded each week. Former US international and former MLS player Jimmy Conrad hosts The Mixer, a daily "news of the day" show, and he also hosts Jimmy Conrad's American Soccer Spectacular, which focuses on US Soccer and American footballers, in general. Conrad has also gone on the road to shoot "on location" shows at events such as Euro 2012 and last summer's USA at Mexico match. Other shows, like The Rumor Mill and The Whip, are also KickTV lineup mainstays.
The channel's most recent major endeavor, the FIFA 13 KickTV Invitational, began with a relationship that arose last summer. KickTV brought well-known FIFA gamer and YouTube personality KSIOlajidebt (over 1.2 million subscribers) over to the States from England for the Real Madrid vs. AC Milan friendly that took place at Yankee Stadium. The two also partnered up to create other videos, such as the "KSI vs. Conrad crossbar challenge."
Following the official launch of FIFA 13 this past September, KickTV reached out to 16 top FIFA YouTube users, including KSI, about putting together a tournament that would include group stages and then a standard tournament tree. All of the tournament matches were hosted on the KickTV YouTube channel, and the players also uploaded videos (i.e. pre-game predictions and post-match analysis) onto their own individual channels. "The point," stated McDonough, "was to engage an audience that's young, and then expose those individuals to the other content that we have on our site."
The tournament proved to be a big success for KickTV, generating around 5.5 million total page views. There could be another similar competition hosted by KickTV in 2013. The hope, according to McDonough, is that the channel will be able to live stream the Final of that tournament. Those interested in viewing the Final of the first ever KickTV FIFA Invitational, which was held during the "Drunk FIFA" event that took place at Football Factory at Legends in New York City on January 25, can click here (no spoilers, as a $10,000 grand prize was on the line).
KickTV is looking to expand beyond YouTube uploads over the next twelve months. "We want to start doing the live event stuff," McDonough told me, "including creating our own halftime shows for those who don't want to sit around and listen to pundits on stations like FOX Soccer or ESPN. We want to have our own live stream that would be around for select matches, and these would include different personalities; ex-players and maybe even current players joining us. I figure you're going to see us doing some really cool stuff around that in the near future. Everything is leading up to what we want the KickTV experience to be for the (2014) World Cup."
"We are trying to show, particularly in the United States, that soccer is a very fast growing sport. We do this because we're really passionate about it, and if we can help grow the game a little more here in the States, that's a win for us. Soccer really is growing, and it's only going to be a matter of time before, at least I think, before it's rivaling American football, and every day for us is exciting because we get to be a part of it."