Kit & Club: LAFC and YouTube TV
LAFC has been a prominent fixture in the new soccer landscape here in the states. Bursting onto the scene in 2018, the club has been one of the most successful and captivating to watch throughout Major League Soccer in recent years.
Before the team officially took the pitch, they were compelled to find a kit sponsor that shared the same values that they carried as an organization, forward thinking and innovative while encompassing the authenticity and passion that defines the Los Angeles culture.
“Los Angeles is a cultural hub for sports just like it is for everything else,” said Seth Burton, Sr. Vice President of Communications & Content for LAFC. “It was through sports that the kit sponsorship with YouTube TV gained momentum.”
During a fortuitous meeting during the 2017 World Series, members of the LAFC ownership group met with leaders of YouTube TV at Dodger Stadium. While YouTube TV had a league partnership throughout that season, 2017 was the first year that the platform served as the presenting partner of the World Series. Being able to see the platform’s in-stadium activations and unique broadcast integrations, LAFC were drawn to the likeminded thinking the LA-based streaming giant provided.
“As a new team, we questioned internally what direction we wanted to go with when deciding upon a kit sponsor,” said Kristen Kuhn, Senior Vice President of Partnership Marketing, Brand, & Community for LAFC. “We wanted to sign with a local partner that could compliment our new energy that we brought to the table while also reaching a national audience with additional international cache opportunities.”
Thus the meeting at Dodger Stadium proved to be fortuitous. In January 2018, the two organizations announced that YouTube TV would serve as the kit sponsor during the club’s debut season and beyond. LAFC became the first sports team that YouTube TV had partnered with.
“When the announcement happened, there wasn’t that brand same brand awareness for YouTube TV that exists today,” said Kuhn. “We were both in our infancy stages. For us, it made sense to have a kit sponsor like YouTube TV to align with their brand in order to amplify their brand awareness. We want to climb through the ranks together.”
With the kit sponsorship established, the partnership was not limited to what happened on the field. Adding to the innovation theme, YouTube TV serves as the local English broadcast partner for those in the Southern California area. At the time of the deal, it marked the first time that a U.S. sports franchise sold their regional broadcast rights to an online streaming service.
“Since we were the first team to do this type of local television deal, we knew we would have to think proactively in terms of how we approached this from an activation standpoint,” said Burton. “We wanted to be the first to go through this groundbreaking process. It really allowed us to integrate our strategic direction into what the viewer saw when tuning into a match.”
The LAFC production staff had to pivot their approach to match the capabilities that this new streaming platform could provide. Unlike traditional media partnerships where network producers and personnel are brought in to help the show come together, the club was tasked with building a broadcasting department and the infrastructure to fully capture this come-to-life broadcast.
The work has come to fruition as the partnership has been further elevated through organic series that are housed on YouTube TV such as “Inside LAFC” and “LAFC 360”. Additionally, the curated content has further captured the essence of the club, detailing the behind-the-scenes action that adds an additional layer to the intimate feel that the club provides. “The continuity is great,” said Kuhn. “YouTube TV allows us to have seamless brand integration across all platforms, including the in-stadium experience.”
The relationship with YouTube TV has been ever-growing for the LAFC team. As they continue to weave themselves into the fabric of the club, it has allowed for both sides to continue to innovate and see what is next to create.