ESPN signs eight-year deal with LaLiga bringing top-tier Spanish soccer to the US
ESPN has acquired the rights to the all-important LaLiga in the United States until the end of the 2028/29 season. While the financial terms of the eight-year contract are not public, Sportico estimates that ESPN will pay the Spanish soccer body $175 million per year. This is only for one season; they will have to pay a total of $1.4 billion over the duration of the agreement. According to the sports business outlet, it was well worth it, as it is now the most lucrative US media rights deal for an international soccer league.
What can we expect?
This contract will kick off in the 2021/22 season and will provide ESPN+ with live and on-demand coverage of 380 top-flight matches throughout the year. ESPN+ will now broadcast a number of games from LaLiga SmartBank, Spain’s second-tier soccer league. All fixtures, including five promotion playoffs, will be available in both English and Spanish as part of this agreement.
Select games will be broadcast on ESPN’s linear network throughout the season, in addition to ESPN+. SportsCenter and other ESPN studio shows, as well as ESPN’s digital and social media platforms, will provide coverage and highlights. This isn’t all; match previews, highlights, and magazine shows are also available.
This new contract will highlight LaLiga’s and its clubs’ dominance in the world’s largest media market. It will also carry one of the best soccer leagues to American screens in a more detailed and modern way than ever before. Not only that, but the transaction would broaden ESPN+’s soccer selection. This includes the Copa Del Rey knockout tournament in Spain, the Bundesliga in Germany, and Major League Soccer.
How the deal began
To make this agreement with ESPN possible, LaLiga had to repurchase its US media rights from BeIN Sports. This Qatar-based broadcaster had been the league’s exclusive broadcast partner in the country until the final game of the 2023/24 season. This isn’t the end for BeIN; the company still has big plans for the American market, where it has rights to Ligue 1, Copa Libertadores, and the Africa Cup of Nations.
La Liga signed a 15-year joint venture with Relevent Sports in 2018 to expand its brand in the region. The league’s new deal with ESPN will put it alongside a number of other premium sports assets while also introducing it to a massive US audience, with Disney reporting that ESPN+ has produced 13.8 million subscribers.