The 20 year relationship between Sky Sports and La Liga has come to an end, after Eleven Sports won the rights to show the League’s matches in the UK and Ireland for the next three years.
The deal comes after Sky’s bid of less than £18 million was topped by Eleven Sports, who opted not to disclose the amount that it paid for the rights, which will commence next season.
Eleven Sports are owned by Leeds United Chairman Andrea Radrizzani, who has helped the broadcaster gain a strong presence in numerous markets, including: Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, USA, Singapore and Taiwan.
Javier Tebas, president of La Liga commented on the deal: “Eleven Sports are an excellent partner for us in various markets across Europe and we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with them in the UK and Ireland – important markets for us in which La Liga is very popular.”
The decision could be monumental for the way football is broadcast in the UK, as Eleven Sports could utilise its online platforms and broadcast La Liga to an English audience via a online subscription based platform. Although, it may see a more lucrative venture is to set up a channel on UK television, something that may become a realistic ambition if it expands its arsenal with the acquisition of a set English fixtures.
The other option for Eleven Sports is to sub-license some, or all of its La Liga offering, a move that would likely favour BT Sport given that Marc Watson is the former CEO of BT and was responsible for the forming of BT Sports, is now in charge of the day to day running of Eleven Sports.
Furthermore, having captured the rights to Spain’s top division, Eleven Sports could now look for expansion into the English Premier League, with two Premier League rights packages remaining available.
After the February bidding for the Premier League rights came to a close, package F and G, which contained 20 matches, both still remained up for grabs. However, Sky got the bulk of the package with 128 live games and BT Sport picked up 32 games.