Spanish top flight soccer division La Liga announced on Tuesday a key deal with Facebook that will enable viewers in various countries in Indian sub-continent to watch every game over the next three seasons on the social media network.
A statement from La Liga stated that all 380 league matches for the new season would be available to the viewers in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The games start on Friday.
“We are really happy to be on a free to air service in such an important territory as the Indian sub-continent,” said Alfredo Bermejo, who is La Liga’s head of digital strategy. “One of our goals for the last two years has been to offer content to the widest audience possible, so partnering with free platforms like Facebook, which has 270 million users in India, is key to us.”
Facebook and La Liga didn’t give financial details of the deal. The La Liga-Facebook deal is considered to be the signal of Facebook unseating Sony Pictures Network as the rights holder in the region.
Sony reportedly paid $32 million for the right to broadcast La Liga between 2014 and 2018.
Facebook started going into sports streaming in 2017 by broadcasting weekly Major League Baseball games. The company also agreed earlier this month to a deal with broadcaster Eleven sports to show one La LIga and one Serie A game per week on its platform.
The tie-up with La Liga is the most recent statement of the growing interest of tech groups broadcasting sports in order to keep young viewers hooked on their platforms.
Earlier this year, e-commerce giant Amazon won rights to show 20 English Premier League matches a season from 2019 in Britain.
On the other hand, Facebook’s Director for Global Live Sports Peter Hutton described the deal with La Liga as an experiment. He said that while the company has other deals in the works, he ruled out an instant land grab of rights deals in sport.
“We’re looking at a few other deals that are quite close to completion but this is not about going out and buying a huge amount of content worldwide,” Hutton said.
“We’re looking at specific rights in specific markets and to try to learn from data from those experiences and work out what the next step is. If you rush into too many deals at once, you can’t do it properly.”
The monitoring system used by Facebook will keep any leakage from happening, guaranteeing that only viewers inside the Indian sub-continent will be able to watch the games through the platform.
The games will first be shown without any advertisements, even though Hutton said that Facebook is doing trials in ads on live content in the United States which may be done, too, on its La Liga coverage at a later date.
“This is one deal, it’s not something that is a big threat to the broadcast world,” Hutton added, who was a former CEO of Eurosport hired by Facebook in May to oversee live sports operation.
“We have rights to work with broadcaster and we may bring in partners to make sure the experience is right. What’s clear about this is that 380 games will be available on Facebook, then we’ll keep our options open as to how we spread that content out so people can see it in as many ways as possible,” he explained.
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