MIAMI (13 May 2021) —
ESPN is expected to announce that it has acquired the English-language and Spanish-language media rights to Spain’s LaLiga Santander. The multi-year rightsholder agreement will begin in August 2021, according to a report in World Soccer Talk.
World Soccer Talk reached out to both LaLiga and ESPN for comment. Spokespeople for both organizations declined to comment.
The Spanish top-flight league is aware that it has lost ground on more popular leagues in the United States such as the Premier League and Liga MX. Meanwhile, the German Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A had secured deals with Disney-owned ESPN. In fact, LaLiga president Javier Tebas was recently in the United States and meeting with ESPN officials.
It was previously known that ESPN was in talks to acquire LaLiga rights for the U.S. market for several months. beIN SPORTS had the exclusive rights in the United States through 2024 in a global deal between TV broadcaster and the league. However, a dispute led to major cable TV operators to drop beIN SPORTS from their broadcast lineup. While more dedicated fans of LaLiga were able to see coverage in English and Spanish through a subscription to Sling TV, the lack of presence on major cable providers led to a drop in LaLiga’s viewership in the U.S. market.
Recently, it was announced that Serie A has secured a new deal with media giants ViacomCBS which will have some of the games featured on television. The majority of the matches will be on streaming, on CBS’ Paramount+ streaming platform.
World Soccer Talk also reported that ESPN has begun prepping talent for LaLiga for the start of the 2021/22 season.
Details about ESPN’s coverage plans for LaLiga are forthcoming. It is expected that many of the games will be featured on ESPN+ as well as the main ESPN television networks and over-the-air ABC network. El Clásico is almost certainly to be aired on ABC.
The number of LaLiga matches to be shown each round is also unknown. One of the benefits of beIN SPORT Español’s coverage of LaLiga was the fact that in any given round, almost all of the games were available, as well as the ability to record them/watch on demand. beIn SPORT also featured weekly LaLiga shows such as LaLiga World, and a weekly hour-long highlights package.