There is no lack of soccer interview content online, on television, or on the radio. Arguably the most popular sport in the world, “interviews have been done for decades by traditional media outlets in traditional ways,” says Maxime Horbez, Jellysmack’s Paris-based VP of Sports.
The Jellysmack Oh My Goal (OMG) team, having already conquered the online soccer media scene, was looking to innovate.
Never one to settle for “good enough” or the status quo, Maxime knew there was something else they could bring to the table. A groundbreaking idea came to him during the COVID lockdowns.
Suspension of the soccer season and a forced hiatus of in-person interviews had put sports journalism in a tight spot. Rather than bowing out or relying on old content, they decided to go “in a different direction.”
“We saw that remote interviewing techniques were super viable and actually worked really well,” Maxime recalls.
This new format had potential. They just needed the right content. And the right host.
Enter Colin Dicanot.
Meet Your Host, Colin Dicanot
To get the full story, let’s rewind.
It’s 2018. French journalist Colin Dicanot, a lifelong soccer fan with a love of all things British, was hired as an English-speaking presenter for the 2018 World Cup. Although the project didn’t pan out, he went on to write articles for the OMG website and became an essential part of the team. It was soon clear to Maxime that his influence extended far beyond that of a typical employee.
“Colin Dicanot has this natural capacity for empathy,” says Maxime. “He made friends easily, was naturally charming, and had a winning personality. When people joined the team at the Paris office—from interns to managers—I’d always have them talk to Colin.” Maxime notes that Colin acted as the team spokesman and really imparted the OMG spirit and work ethic in an authentic way.
Maxime quickly decided that Colin’s personal and professional abilities would make him the ideal interviewer for the show he had in mind. His hard work and dedication as a journalist and his natural ability to elicit conversation seemed to be the perfect fit.
“I knew we had to keep developing the interview side of OMG,” says Maxime. They already had a good amount of content on OMG, but he felt there was room for them to improve their credibility and notoriety. “We needed to drive brand awareness, to talk to key stakeholders in the market.” And, what better key stakeholders than the players and journalists themselves?
Within a few weeks, the Colinterview show was live.
Time and Trust
So, what makes Colinterview stand out from the pack? Well, it all started with a direct message on Instagram, for one. Colin messaged soccer player Serge Aurier, requesting an interview. Aurier, a star Ivorian player who (at the time) played for Tottenham, was well-known in France, having also done a stint with Paris Saint Germain.
However, he wasn’t known for agreeing to interviews with traditional media outlets. It was a shot in the dark. But, Aurier said yes. Colin, a long-time Tottenham fan, was thrilled.
“Social media is really the best way to get in touch with people you might never meet in real life,” says Colin with a smile.
Aurier’s 35-minute interview was posted on YouTube on January 29, 2021. To date, it has racked up 360,000 views.
According to Colin himself, it’s all about “time and trust.”
The longer format gives the players more time to tell their stories in their own way. Once they get talking, they sometimes forget they’re in an interview.
There’s no studio, no lights. You’re just having a friendly conversation. So, you tend to share a bit more than what you would in an official capacity.Colin Dicanot
Chatting about Aurier prompted Colin to share his own soccer origin story. His dad coached a local recreation league for kids and sometimes brought him to practice. “I just kept annoying my dad until he let me play,” he says fondly. “It became a passion, and I still enjoy it today.”
As it turns out, the fans love hearing the personal side of things.
A sampling of the 300+ comments on Aurier’s episode:
- “Wow, I just spent the evening binge watching four episodes. This is the first and only time I’ve ever seen such high quality soccer interviews.”
- “Another player who is not at all what the media makes him out to be! He’s got a good head on his shoulders. It’s so great to see him from this perspective. Great work, Colin!”
Needless to say, one thing led to another. Colin has conducted over 50 interviews to date, and counting. Players even DM him on Instagram as the show steadily gains popularity. Today, there are more players asking to be interviewed than there is time to interview them.
Behind the Scenes with Colin Dicanot
So what does it take to prepare for an episode? Before filming, Colin dives into statistics. He analyzes games and strategies. “I try to read between the lines,” he says. “What were the players’ shining moments? When did the going get tough?”
He is also curious about injuries: How are they dealt with? How does it feel to sit on the sidelines? His queries are always perfectly framed. He accounts for the fact that, for some camera shy interviewees, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to speak to a journalist.
Colin weaves his questions into the conversation seamlessly, like a tailor threading a needle. The resulting conversation can last up to two hours. About half of it ends up on the cutting room floor.
“We keep the most essential parts of the interview, of course,” he says.
Despite the inevitable cuts, “one thing leads to another.” The flow of the conversation is essential to its authenticity. Colin credits OMG video editor Lucas Rougier for the polished finished product.
Lucas isn’t the only one working behind the scenes. In fact, there’s an entire OMG team dedicated to Colinterview: editors, scripters, graphic designers. Although Colin is the face of the show, Colinterview is a collective effort, and the whole team takes pride in what they do.
“I have always told my teammates that teamwork makes the dream work,” says Maxime.
“We originally published on one of our OMG YouTube channels,” he adds. “But the show quickly outgrew it. Fans were asking for a brand new channel, dedicated exclusively to the show.”
And you’ve got to give the people what they want.
The transition went off without a hitch. The YouTube channel, launched on November 25th, 2021, now boasts more than 50,000 subscribers. Episodes average five million views across platforms.
The massive success, however, should come as no surprise. Jellysmack is “already in the business of helping Creators, optimizing their content, and distributing it across platforms,” says Maxime. “So, we did the same thing for Colin.”
Leveraging the best practices from the Creator Program, they’ve also tapped into the potential of other platforms. The show is now present on YouTube (50,000 fans), Facebook (70,000 fans), Instagram (10,000 fans), and Snapchat (116,000 subscribers and Jellysmack’s 10th highest-performing channel with the most engagement per video). [Followings as of June 3, 2022.]
“There are so many great talents in French soccer,” says Colin.
He wants to interview as many of them as he can. And he’s well on his way. They’ve already got a star line up of interviewees and a bevy of loyal fans eagerly awaiting upcoming episodes. Brand sponsorships could also be on the way.
The show currently produces one episode a week and is ready to scale. “We’d like to be putting content out more often,” says Maxime.
A second show focusing on coaches or rising stars is currently in development. Fans will see their favorite interviewer more often and younger players will get more air time.
“Often younger players, who haven’t yet reached celebrity status yet, don’t get the media attention they deserve,” says Colin. He notes that he’d love to feature up-and-coming players in shorter format interviews, including fun bonus material like games and quizzes.
And the ultimate dream? To go international, of course. At the time of this writing, Colinterview content is exclusively available in French. But, given the success of the show (and Colin’s impeccable Manchester-accented English), it’s only a matter of time until the English version comes to a screen near you. A handful of English language interviews have already been done, including with Andreas Pereira of Manchester United.
“We want to get the biggest stars, regardless of where they come from,” Maxime says.
There is even talk of reproducing the show with different hosts in additional countries. “Our ultimate goal is to create shows that take on a life of their own,” says Maxime. And, it’s certainly inspiring to see a Jellysmacker become a creator in their own right with hard work, dedication, and sheer force of will.
As for Colin, he’s still the down-to-earth guy he’s always been. A new dad to Alba and a journalist with a passion for the game.
“We want to keep people interested. Curious. These are human interest pieces,” Colin notes.
The best compliments he gets actually come from people who don’t know the first thing about soccer. People who connect with the anecdotes and the chill vibe. As Serge Aurier says in the introductory episode,
I’m a soccer player, sure. But I’m also a human being.Serge Aurier
“It’s what my dad has always wanted from sports media,” says Colin. “Something different than the usual analyses and pundits.” So you can imagine how he felt when his father gave his show his approval.
“My dad said I did it—that I was a part of something totally different and appreciated by so many people,” he says.
The OMG experience has grown, and Colin Dicanot has too.
And this is just the beginning.