<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-P36XLWQ" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

ESPN secures “US$1.4bn” La Liga US rights deal until 2029

Eight-year agreement sees Spanish soccer league buyout BeIN Sports" contract.

14 May 2021 Sam Carp
  • ESPN+ to stream 380 top-flight games per season
  • Deal is the most valuable US media rights contract for an overseas soccer league, reports Sportico
  • La Liga’s US broadcast partnership with BeIN originally due to run until end of 2023/24 season

Disney-owned sports broadcaster ESPN has secured rights in the US to La Liga until the end of the 2028/29 season.

Financial terms of the eight-year deal were not made public, but Sportico reports that ESPN will pay the Spanish soccer body US$175 million a year, equal to some US$1.4 billion over the duration of the agreement. The sports business outlet added that it is now the most valuable US media rights contract for an overseas soccer league.

Starting from the 2021/22 season, the deal will bring live and on-demand coverage of 380 top-flight matches a year to ESPN+, the broadcaster’s subscription streaming service. ESPN+ will also show a selection of games from La Liga SmartBank, Spanish soccer’s second tier, including five promotion playoffs. All fixtures will be available in both English and Spanish.

Select matches will air across ESPN’s linear networks each season, while coverage and highlights will also be available on SportsCenter and other ESPN studio programmes, as well as on the broadcaster’s digital and social platforms.

The expansive deal also includes a variety of surround programming, including match previews, highlights and magazine shows.

“We are absolutely thrilled to bring La Liga to ESPN in the US,” said La Liga president Javier Tebas. “This is an historic eight-season agreement in US soccer broadcasting that speaks to the power of La Liga and its clubs in the largest media market in the world and will bring the world’s best soccer league to American screens in a more comprehensive and modern way than ever before.”

The deal further bolsters the lineup of soccer on ESPN+, which also includes Spain’s Copa Del Rey knockout tournament, Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga and Major League Soccer (MLS), among others.

Burke Magnus, executive vice president of programming and original content at ESPN, added: “As the sport of soccer continues its ascendance in the US market, we are incredibly excited to work with La Liga to establish a deeper connection to American fans through our company’s industry-leading streaming platforms, television networks, and digital and social media assets.”

In order to agree the deal with ESPN, La Liga had to buy back its US media rights from Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Sports, which was due to be the league’s exclusive broadcast partner in the country until the end of the 2023/24 season.

BeIN said in a statement that the arrangement is ‘strategically and commercially beneficial’ to the two parties, who remain partners in markets such as France, Australia, and the Middle East and North Africa. 

Commenting on the move, Richard Verow, chief sports officer at BeIN Media Group, said that the broadcaster still has “significant ambitions” for the US market, where it holds rights to properties such as French soccer’s Ligue 1, South America’s Copa Libertadores and the Africa Cup of Nations.

“Like broadcasters all over the world, we are constantly assessing our rights portfolio across all our markets to ensure financial discipline, commercial and strategic sense, and – crucially – long term growth,” Verow added. “This arrangement with La Liga in the US and Canada reflects that, sacrificing a short-term gain for long-term wins and sustainability in North America.

“Financial discipline has never been more important in the current context, where you have a ferociously competitive US market, coupled with constantly changing viewing habits, all complicated further by the pandemic and rampant piracy.”

North America is an important strategic market for La Liga, which in 2018 signed up to a 15-year joint venture with US sports and entertainment company Relevent Sports to grow its brand in the region. The league’s new deal with ESPN will put it alongside a number of other premium sports properties and also expose it to a broad US audience, with Disney reporting this week that ESPN+ now has 13.8 million subscribers.  

1 / 2news articles read

Enjoying SportsPro content? Create your account and get enhanced access to all the latest stories.


Already have an account?