Soccer Content Brand Copa90 Launches Copa90 Studios With ‘Race To The Center Of The Earth’ Format Creator Dan Lewis; Sets Strategic Deal With ’30 For 30′ Doc Maker Evan Rosenfeld

EXCLUSIVE: Here’s an intriguing development in the burgeoning sports docs and entertainment space: UK-based soccer content specialist Copa90 has formed a studio production business with Race to the Center of the Earth creator Dan Lewis and set a strategic partnership with U.S. filmmaker Evan Rosenfeld to build a slate of premium docs.

Copa90 Studios has been created to capitalize on the fan-focused company’s influence in the online sports content space over the past decade and will focus on developing and producing “high-end sports-related entertainment.” Its formation comes at a time of growth: this year Copa90 was named Media Company of the Year at the British Media Awards.

Overseeing Copa90 Studios will be former Plum Pictures Head of Development Lewis, who left the British unscripted indie to take his new role last month. He’s best known for spending 12 years at Plum, where he created the format on which Nat Geo epic Race to the Center of the Earth was based, plus James May: The Reassembler for BBC Four, an upcoming Channel 4 Digital comedy format series and a luxury property travel show for Paramount+. He also developed Channel 4’s Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping and produced shows such as Cristiano Ronaldo Meets Piers Morgan, Wayne Rooney’s Street Striker and James May’s Toy Stories.

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Lewis will run Copa90 Studios alongside Copa90 Chief Operating Officer Ross Whittow-Williams, with the latter overseeing operational and strategic responsibilities. “Having been a fan of Copa90 for some time, I couldn’t be more excited to join the team and build upon their already impressive reputation as a distinctive and respected voice within sports media,” said Lewis.

Copa90 is entering a fertile space for international production, with scores of soccer-themed doc series, dramas and comedy series ordered at broadcasters and global streamers in the past few years, as companies seek to deepen ties with young and hungry audiences who consume serious amounts of content online.

“From All or Nothing to Ted Lasso, the last few years has seen an unprecedented surge in premium, cross-genre football-adjacent programming driven, in part, by the ambitions of entertainment providers to reach and engage global audiences by tapping into their biggest passions,” said Whittow-Williams. “But the reality is that producers are yet to even scratch the surface in terms of harnessing the power and unlocking the potential that the world’s biggest passion represents as a jumping off point for storytelling and entertainment.”

Copa90 is popular on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and will seek to use that expertize to create high-end docs, factual shows and entertainment programs. “The idea of focusing purely on sports-related programming gives us a huge opportunity within the industry and I look forward to utilising Copa90’s unrivalled reputation and taking our ideas to the UK broadcasters, U.S. networks and international streamers,” said Lewis.

Premium Doc Slate

Copa90 kicks off with an agreement to build a slate of premium docs with Emmy-nominated producer Rosenfeld, who is based in the U.S. They will focus on creating returning and series and feature docs about unseen characters and untold stories from the world of soccer, and are already off the mark with an as-yet unannounced project that’s set to enter production in August.

“As an admirer of their work for many years, this partnership with Copa90 is exciting and has incredible potential,” said Rosenfeld. “The stories surrounding the game of football come with a deeper and more interesting history than American sports, which makes for compelling content with a high level of emotion and stakes built in.

“Add to that an explosion of interest in football here in the U.S. and I see an expanding market and a big opportunity. Working with Copa90, we are uniquely situated in the world of football to find and unlock these stories in the premium documentary space unlike anybody else.”

Producer and director Rosenfeld has worked in sports documentary filmmaking for the last 15 years, beginning with producing two of ESPN’s most successful 30 For 30 docs: The U and Broke. He worked with LeBron James on Starz’s youth football doc series Warriors of Liberty City and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on HBO doc Kareem: Minority of One, as well as Peter Berg and Adam McKay.

He was showrunner on VICE World of Sports, which won Outstanding Sports Program at the 2017 Producers Guild Awards, and received an Emmy nomination in 2018 for Best Sports Documentary. His series Rainn Wilson & the Geography of Bliss is currently in production and set to launch on Peacock in 2023.

Copa90, known for short-form viral videos featuring major soccer talent, does has already for experience in longer-form production. Last year, it co-produced the well received BBC doc Krept & Konan: We Are England, in which the British rap duo attempted to write an anthem for the England soccer team, with Acme Films and Ten Toes Media.

“Copa90 Studios is a natural evolution of our deep heritage in content creation where we’ve built a globally recognised brand around innovative formats and storytelling,” said Whittow-Williams. “Combining our unparalleled insight of, and connections to, the global football community with industry leading creative talent like Dan Lewis and preeminent film makers like Evan Rosenfeld gives us a unique development engine from which we can source, create and produce content that will set a new bar in sports-adjacent programming.

“Our extensive network of creators across every continent that we have been working with since 2015 is a competitive advantage – allowing us to tap into a rich mine of incredible stories that are as-yet untold.”

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