The American soccer family now has three new content focused, For Soccer Ventures (FSV) initiatives people can engage with. All facets of player, fan and Soccer Mom can stay connected to the game with the first-ever, U.S. soccer-centric podcast network, their original show “Orange Slices” hosted by Heath Pearce and Mark McKenzie, as well a burgeoning Preferred Partnership with Girls Soccer Network (GSN). COVID-19 and soccer participation both continue to surge in numbers across the nation. Coronavirus has kept adults and kids from playing in live football games, attending a summer camp, or practicing with friends in the local park to help avoid becoming sick and contagious. Professional leagues like the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga in Europe and the MLS here in the United States are back and underway with virus testing, social distancing and ‘bubble’ protocols in place. The Sports Techie community blog shares this FSV sports tech related news out of Philadelphia in hopes our followers and readers looking for unique, American soccer related content can tune in to engaging, podcast storytelling by the next generations of young stars and Socceristas dedicated to accumulating the top, diversified voices in the sport of soccer.
Original Content Wars
The fight for original content market share and eyeballs is as ferocious as making it in podcasting as the competition for ears is also quite fierce since there are so many podcasts to choose from. When I think of original content, Netflix comes to mind. They started as a technology company that used red colored boxes for CD movie rentals then as the delivery medium evaporated, they quickly transformed into what is now a massive, content making production machine for their network subscribers to enjoy. Might FSV Network become the Netflix of American soccer content?
When I think of podcasting, it is still the wild, wild West in terms of just making it. The one’s that rise to the top need to have the right content at the right time with the right audience listening, then toss in some staying power.
FSV Network will offer compelling feature shows such as “Orange Slices,” hosted by former U.S. Men’s National Team star Heath Pearce and rising American star Mark McKenzie of the Philadelphia Union. Also, look for the rerelease of “The Best Soccer Show,” with Jason Davis and Jared DuBois, Sirius XM hosts.
“There are many diverse voices in American soccer who deserve a new platform to discuss their experiences throughout the vast soccer community. Podcasting has emerged as a megaphone for storytelling, and we’ve recognized that there is no better way to invest in elevating the American soccer story than to give its future leaders the mic,” stated Philadelphia Union Investor and FSV Principal Richie Graham.
Orange Slices, Best Soccer Show
Halftime of soccer games when I played as a kid on the Beavers in Redmond was the time for orange slices to help rehydrate. Some Mom’s would buy the bags of small oranges that were a hit or miss in terms of freshness, look and taste. Then there was the occasional parent that went to the grocery store and bought those individually sold, plump, juicy and ripe, flavor-explosion oranges that you wished came every game. Think of these shows as the best orange slices you ever had during a halftime on a hot and humid, red-hot day.
You can download the shows on all podcast platforms, including Spotify and iTunes.
Below is a breakdown of the shows:
ORANGE SLICES: Connecting the past, present, and future generations of U.S. internationals around our collective soccer story. The show will be hosted by former US international and Major League Soccer All-Star Heath Pearce and emerging U.S. international Mark McKenzie of Philadelphia Union, this cross-generational variety show will celebrate the past, present, and future of American soccer. Part nostalgia and history, part support for the future of the game, each episode will feature guests from different generations of American soccer sharing stories, insights, and commentary on their soccer experiences. Through rotating segments, the show will take us on a journey through our uniquely American soccer culture, from the muddy fields and halftime orange slices of youth soccer to the biggest games won and lost on the world’s stage.
BEST SOCCER SHOW: Hosted by Sirius XM’s Jason Davis and American soccer devotee Jared DuBois, “Best Soccer Show” is an original blend of entertaining storytelling, quick quips, and sharp commentary that captures the spirit of American soccer fandom. Beloved for its balance of thoughtful insight and humorous candor, each episode explores American soccer’s biggest stories while celebrating our uniquely American brand of the game. From the ups and downs of our national teams to the state of MLS, UEFA and NWSL, the hosts drive dynamic conversations through rotating segments, call-ins from real fans, and interviews with some of the biggest names in the game. Down to Earth and with a big heart, it’s simply America’s Best Soccer Show.
GSN Preferred Partnership
The term “Preferred Partnership” is new to me. I am educated guessing that there are not too many of these business relationships per company making GSN both a valuable short- and long-term partnership. Look for the two companies to work together on producing content and commercial opportunities.
Girls Soccer Network is a vibrant community for girls and women who love the game of soccer beyond the sidelines of the pitch. Through their digital platform (girlssoccernetwork.com) and social media, the GSN team focuses on creating engaging, empowering and inspirational content that feeds the soccer soul and brings together a culture of “Socceristas” that is positive and unapologetically themselves.
“We’re thrilled to partner with For Soccer Ventures. The leadership team recognizes the enormous opportunity to help support all the thriving women’s soccer communities across the country and to grow the game for future generations,” said Jen Gruskoff, Founder and Editor-in-Chief @ GSN. She added, “We’ve only scratched the surface from a content and commercial development perspective, and this partnership will help us supercharge our efforts to connect with brands and develop game-changing content platforms.”
Short- and Long-Term Industry Match
Short term, FSV Network helps to fill the massive void of time football players, coaches and fans alike are dealing with because of being stuck at home. Long term, soccer is finally ingrained in America culture and kids love everything about it making the prospects for FSV Network success better than most startup business endeavors. The launch of their football podcasting network seems to be well-timed as is their company focus to support the growth of female soccer by teaming up with a leading women’s soccer publisher to produce content and generate commercial opportunities.
“The next decade of soccer in the U.S. will be transformative. Both fans and players alike will be protagonists in leading the growth of the sport throughout this period, and we believe Orange Slices and The Best Soccer Show provide each their space,” said Pearce, Chief Creative Officer at For Soccer Ventures. Pearce commented, “Our network will add new, like-minded partners, such as Girls Soccer Network and additional shows launched in the coming months, as we look to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of those who’ve gotten us here, while shining a light on our path forward as a soccer nation.”
FSV is an independent, mission-driven platform committed to advancing American soccer on and off the field. Founded by Philadelphia Union investor Richie Graham, their shared goal is to drive participation and fanbase growth of the American game by engaging, activating, and inspiring the American soccer community at all levels of the sport.
It launched in February, 2020 behind a $50 million commitment by Graham for soccer investment purposes and to champion philanthropic projects. The investment team focus is to build out The Soccer Collective as the new media house designed to lead a cooperative movement to showcase American soccer culture and fan experiences by storytelling, activations and brand content development. They also operate The Soccer Alliance which aims to expand the existing network of soccer properties owned by Graham while focused on youth clubs, leagues and tournaments with the objective of improving the on-field experience for players and American soccer families.
FSV products include competitions, content, podcasts, OTT, experiential, and playing programs. FSV services include technical expertise, business development, strategy and insights, full-service creative, production, and distribution. They also maintain an Influencer Network in their portfolio.
Sports Techie, I wrote about FSV during their launch month so it is nice to catch up with how they are progressing as a sports tech business.
COVID-19 is not a good thing but it can create positive opportunities for entrepreneurship to thrive when the timing is right as may be the case for the FSV Network. FSV enters into the saturated podcasting world with high hopes, solid plans and good intentions.
Is that enough to become the best orange slice ever?
Time, money and execution, plus a little digital luck, will tell.
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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