Soccer Publisher Men in Blazers Launches UK Studio and Seeks First Funding Round

The multichannel media company is capitalizing on surging American interest

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The multichannel soccer publisher Men in Blazers launched a production studio in the U.K. Monday, part of a larger bid from the company to capitalize on the growing wave of American interest in the sport by connecting domestic advertisers and European clubs to U.S. fans. 

The new seven-person studio, consisting of four audio and video producers, two social media strategists and a communications lead, means Men in Blazers can more easily produce branded content on-location, according to cofounder Roger Bennett.

“This American audience is so coveted, and we are perceived as the beachhead,” Bennett said. “The teams and players that want to win the hearts and minds of the American audience partner with our show, and that is what we offer brands.”

The publisher is also debuting a daily podcast, Early Kickoff, which will deliver a 10-minute episode of relevant news from across the world of international soccer by 6 a.m. Eastern.

The podcast encapsulates the longstanding ambition of Men in Blazers: to introduce American fans—and the massive U.S. market—to the world of international soccer.

The potential of the American appetite for soccer, along with its relative unsaturation, has meant Men in Blazers has attracted interest from advertisers, including Bud Light, STōK and New Balance, but also clubs, such as Liverpool and Manchester City, who hope to convert undecided Americans into fans. 

Men in Blazers generated 250 million impressions across its editorial portfolio in August—up from 100 million last August, the company said. Popular shows include the flagship Men in Blazers podcast, as well as a biweekly podcast called Here We Go from Italian soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano and Vamos from Herc Gomez covering the world of Mexican soccer.

“With sports and news podcasts, the product is perishable—if you don’t listen that day, it’s less valuable,” said Steven Abraham, the president of podcast advertising agency Oxford Road. “The appeal of Men in Blazers is that you get big numbers, and you get them on a constant basis.”

Raising capital, eyeing opportunity

The publisher, which started in 2012 as a single podcast hosted by Bennett and Michael Davies, has since expanded to a network of 12 podcasts, a newsletter with over 100,000 free subscribers, a television series on Peacock and a social footprint of 1.3 million followers, said Bennett.

This year, the Men in Blazers network is on track to release over 400 shows across its 12 podcasts, an 81% increase from last year. Through an advertising deal with Wondery, its audio products have 31 sponsors, including Visa and Netflix.

Its total revenue, which is in the seven-figure range, grew 150% from 2021 to 2022, and this year is on track to increase by 30% to 35%, according to Bennett. He wouldn’t share specific numbers.

The 27-person company generates 65% of its revenue through sponsorship and brand partnership, 30% through advertising and 5% through direct-to-consumer products like merchandise and ticket sales to live shows.

It is also currently raising capital for the first time in its history, although the company wouldn’t share financial targets. 

Men in Blazers plans to use the investment to double its headcount in the next 12 months, letting it better take advantage of what Bennett describes as a unique window of opportunity. 

In addition to the continued success of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the recent arrival of superstar Lionel Messi to Inter Miami, three international soccer competitions are coming to North America in the next three years: the Copa América in 2024, the Fifa World Cup in 2025 and the Men’s World Cup in 2026. 

“Men In Blazers recognizes this momentum and understands that there is a massive opportunity for advertisers to reach new sports audiences and fans in the United States,” said Krishna Subramanian, the co-founder and chief executive of Captiv8.

Following the rise in visibility of Wrexham A.F.C. thanks to the show Welcome to Wrexham, soccer clubs also see Men in Blazers as a venue through which they can recruit unaffiliated Americans into their fandoms. The publisher currently has a number of ventures in the works that aim to replicate the success of Wrexham for other clubs.

“The studio in England will allow us to create original IP and partner with brands to create content within soccer,” Bennett said. “That is where we lean in.”

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