FACEBOOK’S NEW APPROACH TO SPORTS BROADCASTING MEANS THE END OF UEFA AND LA LIGA DEALS IN LATIN AMERICA AND INDIA
Facebook has made the executive decision to step away from free-to-air broadcast agreements, due to advances in streaming technologies and its channels continuing to flourish with live sports. Sadly for fans, this means saying goodbye to UEFA in Latin America and Spain’s La Liga in India.
Facebook’s director of sports leagues and media partnerships, Rob Shaw, stated that these decisions are due to the company’s larger strategic vision. Facebook has decided not to compete in the current round of NFL rights talks on the basis of their philosophy. It doesn’t stop there; Facebook has also refused to extend its UEFA Champions League and La Liga contracts.
Despite the fact that these contracts will no longer be with Facebook, they still have strong ties to these leagues. The reality is that Facebook’s traditional media rights arrangements are just that: deals from the past; as broadcasting strategies evolve, they are no longer of high value. They are incompatible with Facebook’s current media business model and have little long-term value. In comparison to broadcast rights agreements, Facebook already expects a bright future by establishing a personal interaction with its users.
Who will be next?
Facebook has been broadcasting UEFA Champions League games in Latin America since 2018, with exclusive free-to-air rights for 32 live matches each season. This agreement will now expire on May 29, 2021, at the end of the Champions League season. There have been rumours in the weeks following Facebook’s announcement that other organisations will purchase the rights to the Champions League in Latin America. There are whispers that Turner and SBT are close to a Brazilian rights contract that will last until 2024.
The agreement with Facebook to carry the UEFA Champions League to Latin America was not their only contract in 2018. They also signed a deal with La Liga that will run until the end of the season. Facebook had the exclusive right to broadcast every La Liga match, including those involving Lionel Messi’s Barcelona.
When Facebook and La Liga signed a deal in India three years ago, they described it as an “interesting experiment.”. Since this arrangement didn’t pose a threat to the industry, they were able to decide if there were any valuable opportunities in this field. Facebook will continue to experiment in the near future as its sporting reach grows, based on this previous experiment. Facebook will not be launching any major broadcast rights deals in football in the United States or internationally at this time.