ESPN has reached an eight-year broadcasting rights deal for all 380 LaLiga matches per season, Disney announced on its fiscal Q2 2021 earnings call Thursday.
ESPN’s coverage of the league — the premier men’s soccer division in Spain — is slated to kick off in August 2021.
BeIN Sports has held U.S. broadcasting rights to LaLiga since 2012 and will keep them through 2024, but the Qatar-based network’s lack of availability for Comcast Xfinity and DirectTV customers created a contractual loophole allowing ESPN to move in.
ESPN’s deal with LaLiga continues the network’s focus on establishing a global footprint through soccer. It previously held U.S. broadcasting rights to Italy’s Serie A but lost them to CBS in March. That deal runs for three years at $75 million per year.
Meanwhile, NBCUniversal’s Peacock is thriving thanks in part to its English Premier League content. Peacock reported 42 million U.S. subscribers in Q1 2021, up 33 million in Q4 2020.
Disney reported that ESPN+ is up to 13.8 million subscribers after signups increased 75% year-over-year. In total, ESPN+ will air more than 2,900 soccer matches per year. LaLiga gives them access to powerhouses like FC Barcelona.
Despite a bevy of financial issues caused by the pandemic — crucial negotiations with star Lionel Messi have been complicated by a club-ordered audit — Barcelona is the first and only sports team to surpass $1 billion in annual revenue.
With a valuation of $4.76 billion, Barca is the fourth-most valuable team in the world behind the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, and New York Knicks.