Reach Studio inks first sponsor as it looks to expand commercial partnerships

Reach Studio inks first sponsor as it looks to expand commercial partnerships
Silva (right) with Reach Studio's leadership team

Reach Studio has signed its first sponsorship deal for one of its productions.

Paint company Crown Trade has agreed to become the exclusive commercial partner for Euro Thrash, Reach Studio’s Euro vodcast hosted by former England player Wes Brown and sports commentator Nubaid Haroon.

The 10-part series launched last month to coincide with the tournament.

Reach Euro Thrash Crown TradeFor Crown, the deal secures a fully integrated partnership across Reach’s portfolio through the end of the Euros, as the vodcast is hosted on the Mirror Football YouTube channel, with clips appearing across other Reach brands.

Crown’s head of trade marketing, Claire Fenton, called the partnership “an obvious choice”, adding it will “resonate with our core audience”.

Formally launched in late March and led by director Mark Field, the Studio team is intended as the forward-thinking audiovisual production arm of the publisher.

Analysis: Quick turnaround

In an interview with The Media Leader, Reach Studio’s head of content, Yara Silva, said progress at the Studio was going positively despite a relatively chaotic early summer period.

“We had to react really quickly with election news coming; we wanted to have a good series on for the Euros,” she explained. “There were a number of things we knew we had to work towards and we didn’t have that much time in the lead-up.”

Silva added that the quick turnaround for key election- and sport-related productions occurred as the broader Studio team was still working through the moving parts of organisational change. While a core leadership team of five, inclusive of Field and Silva, heads up the Studio, there are 120 staffers across the broader effort.

“Considering all of that, it’s going really well,” she described.

Apart from Euro Thrash, Reach has also launched four other new shows since spring, including politically focused podcasts capitalising on this week’s general election: The Division Bell and Poll Position with Kevin Maguire. 

No divide between editorial and commercial

The “whole point” of the Studio was to create a space for collaboration between editorial and commercial, according to Silva.

“We’re trying very hard now within Studio not to say ‘editorial’ and ‘commercial’, because I think that sort of creates a bit of a divide and we don’t want there to be any divide,” she said. “It’s not like anyone can go ahead and make content without one side knowing about it, because all our video and audio resource is in Studio.”

That said, Silva insisted that the editorial leads at the Studio will continue pushing out work they think their audiences would be interested in, regardless of their inherent commercial opportunities. This is exemplified, she argued, in the increased number of political shows despite an admittance that politics can often be a tough sell with clients.

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Silva explained: “In terms of the shows we’re planning on creating, we’re not necessarily thinking about it like: ‘Oh, this will be an easy win for a sponsor, let’s make it.’ We’re thinking: we have an audience who would enjoy this content, it would work on this platform, let’s make it.

“And hopefully we can get sponsorship revenue from it, but if not, we are [still] monetising on those platforms as well, so there shouldn’t be a loss.”

However, the Studio also hopes to create branded content n response to briefs and Silva described the team taking a “flexible” approach to production with brands.

Silva specified YouTube as the core video platform of focus moving forward, as it is the more easily monetisable and good for scaling audiences compared with TikTok and Facebook. Reach had previously focused much of its video content towards Facebook, but it no longer considers the platform reliable.

“All the editorial content that we’re doing is also of a higher-quality now,” Silva added. “Because we’re doing less of it and we’re not just pumping out things for the sake of hitting some sort of quota. Everything we’re doing commercially is up to editorial standards. So both sides are much happier with our video output and our podcast output.”

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