Lionel Messi and El Clásico and the rest of Spain’s LaLiga will have a new broadcast home in the United States beginning next season.
Spain’s premier league and ESPN have agreed to an eight-year rights agreement that begins in August. LaLiga bought back the final three seasons of its North American rights from beIN Sports before agreeing to terms with ESPN. The league and beIN were partners since 2012.
The deal gives LaLiga the foothold in the United States it has desperately wanted. Messi, who plays for Barcelona, is one of the most recognizable soccer stars in the world while Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the world’s top clubs. The twice-a-year El Clásico matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid are the most viewed games worldwide.
With two matches remaining this season, Atlético Madrid, which is seeking its first title since 2004, is two points ahead of Real Madrid.
The ESPN+ streaming service will be the English- and Spanish-language home of all 380 matches, with select games airing on ESPN or ABC. Some LaLiga programming will start appearing on ESPN+ on Saturday.
It is the second major European league that ESPN will have the rights to next season. The network started broadcasting the German Bundesliga last August.
ESPN has had the rights the past couple seasons to Serie A, but Italy’s premier league is moving to CBS and Paramount+ in August.
NBC’s rights to England’s Premier League expire next season. Negotiations on a new contract are expected to take place this summer with NBC, ESPN, Fox and CBS expected to have interest.
Source: AP News