Multiple sources have confirmed that ESPN is expected to announce that it has acquired the media rights to LaLiga, the men’s top professional football division in Spain.
According to the rumors, they will broadcast both English-language and Spanish-language media and the coverage will begin in August of this year.
The supposed development follows several months of ESPN negotiating over rights to bring LaLiga to the U.S. market. beIN SPORTS had a deal in which they had exclusive rights in the U.S. through the year 2024, but they have been bogged down with carrier troubles for years now. The result has been an inability on their part to increase the popularity and awareness of LaLiga among American viewers due to limited distribution.
It is assumed that further details regarding the future of LaLiga on ESPN will be revealed in the official announcement, but it is widely predicted that the games will find themselves on ESPN+, the primary ESPN television networks, and ABC channels.
Securing exclusive rights for live sports has been a tremendous priority for streaming services recently.
fuboTV, for example, has not only been gobbling up regional sports networks and local affiliates but also grabbed exclusive rights to the South American World Cup qualifying matches, amassing a diverse portfolio of coveted sports content. The strategy has been paying off, as fuboTV has more than doubled its subscribers over the last year.
As viewership levels off in domestic markets, streaming companies are vying for the built-in audiences that sports broadcasting provides and some are also trying some creative ways to pump some youthful energy into the aging demographic.
The companies are also looking to new, international audiences. NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS have recently made public the importance of streaming soccer matches with regard to new signups and viewership. Streaming soccer matches not only appeals to World Cup fanatics internationally, but also works to the advantage of the leagues who have thus far not been able to get U.S. audiences fully in on the game.
ESPN’s acquisition of LaLiga games would be a much needed shot in the arm for the league as it continues to look for ways to expand into the global market.
The U.S. rights to broadcast the English Premier League are on the horizon, and it will be interesting to see how the negotiations pan out as the big streamers continue to battle over premium live sports content.