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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

La Liga’s Long Game in North America

  • La Liga and Relevent Sports Group formed La Liga North America in 2018.
  • The venture has secured the league's two biggest foreign media deals.
La-Liga
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As La Liga kicks off its 92nd season with Friday’s match between Osasuna and Sevilla, the league is seeing its North American plan take shape.

In 2018, the league launched La Liga North America, a 50-50 partnership with Relevent Sports Group, to grow the top-flight Spanish league’s fan base across the Atlantic.

“When you look at most of the leagues, they’re reaching a ceiling in their growth at the domestic level, on the revenue side, and definitely on the TV rights side,” La Liga North America CEO Boris Gartner told Front Office Sports.

  • The league took proposals from CAA, Wasserman, Endeavor, and others before settling on Relevent, according to Gartner.
  • In 2021, La Liga North America secured the league’s two largest broadcast deals outside Spain: an eight-year pact with ESPN for U.S. rights worth $1.4 billion, and one with Televisa’s Sky Sports for Mexican and Central American rights worth $560 million.

“It’s one of the foremost leagues in the world,” Tim Bunnell, ESPN’s senior VP of programming and acquisitions, told FOS. “The Clasico [Real Madrid vs. Barcelona matchup] is a tentpole event for us as a company.”

Stream Building

La Liga is a key part of the Worldwide Leader’s offerings on ESPN+.

“The reason we pursued La Liga is to grow our direct-to-consumer business,” said Bunnell. He added that the team up is “a combination of building the partnership and building this platform that we all know is the future.”

ESPN+ had 22.8 million subscribers as of July 2.

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