Disney-owned cable sports channel, (ESPN) has reached an expansive agreement to secure the rights to Spanish LaLiga in the United States for the next eight seasons (through 2028-29).
The deal set to kick off in August will see hundreds of live matches available exclusively on ESPN+. Although the financial implication of the deal was not announced, reports from the Spanish media and Insider Sport estimate the figure to be about $175 million per year for eight years which amounts to a grand total of $1.4 billion over the duration of the agreement. It was also noted that the contract now stands as the most lucrative U.S media rights deal for an overseas football organisation.
What ESPN and Laliga are saying about the deal
Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming & Original Content, ESPN said: “This agreement will bring the excitement, passion, iconic clubs and global superstars of LaLiga to US sports fans with unprecedented access and coverage.”
In describing the deal, LaLiga explained that ESPN+ will stream live and on-demand replay coverage of all 380 LaLiga Santander matches per season. In addition, ESPN+ will live-stream a selection of LaLiga SmartBank matches including five postseason promotion play-offs. All matches will be available to fans in both English and Spanish.
Beyond live matches, ESPN+ will offer a variety of surround programming, including match previews, highlights, magazine shows – and will continue to cover LaLiga extensively on signature ESPN+ shows.
“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,” Magnus further said.
Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company also said: We’ve signed a historic rights agreement with the top division in Spanish club football.
It is one of the world’s best and most popular soccer leagues, including a number of the top clubs in the world and one of the best players in the world. And this eight-year deal covering both English and Spanish language rights brings 380 matches and a host of [Segunda Division] matches beginning in August.
This deal bolsters ESPN plus’ position as a top destination for soccer in the US, offering fans more than 2,900 matches per season.”
LaLiga president, Javier Tebas expressed the league’s delight at being broadcasted in the US on the ESPN network. “This is a historic eight-season agreement in U.S. soccer broadcasting that speaks to the power of LaLiga 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,” he stated.
In completing the deal, the Spanish Soccer body (LaLiga) bought its US media rights from Qatar-based broadcaster, beIN SPORTS, which was due to be the league’s exclusive broadcast partner in the U.S until the end of the 2023/24 season.
“This is just a very rational decision,” explained beIN SPORTS’ Managing Director for the U.S. and Canada, Antonio Briceño. “It’s based on ensuring the sustainability of our presence in this market. Sometimes in business, you have to make tough decisions, and this was a difficult one. We’ve been with [LaLiga] since the beginning of this channel [in 2012], but times have changed, and we need to adapt to make sure the business stays, and that it’s not just attached to one or other rights. We’re a sports channel and we will continue to deliver a product for the fans out there.
“From my financial perspective, it was an offer that made my business profit and loss statement look good, but it goes beyond the financials. There are many different factors that [resulted] in that decision. And yes, it was a tough decision. We believe that beIN SPORTS has been instrumental in growing the brand of LaLiga in the U.S. Actually, the fact that [LaLiga] are willing to buy back the rights from us is also due to the work we’ve done for them.”