Low-bandgap conjugated copolymers based on a donor–acceptor structure have been synthesised via palladium-complex catalysed direct arylation polymerisation. Initially, we report the optimisation of the synthesis of poly(cyclopentadithiophene-alt-benzothiadiazole) (PCPDTBT) formed between cyclopentadithiophene and dibromobenzothiadiazole units. The polymerisation condition has been optimised, which affords high-molecular-weight polymers of up to Mn = 70 k using N-methylpyrrolidone as a solvent. The polymers are used to fabricate organic photovoltaic devices and the best performing PCPDTBT device exhibits a moderate improvement over devices fabricated using the related polymer via Suzuki coupling. Similar polymerisation conditions have also been applied for other monomer units.