At the conclusion of the most recent La Liga season, the amount of interest in the premier Spanish league was perhaps the greatest it has ever been worldwide (and that includes the United States).
However, the continuing media war in Spain is crippling La Liga’s chances of building a worldwide brand and, at the same time, is ruining the league’s chances of closing the gap between the popularity of the league compared to the world’s most popular sports league, the Premier League.
The petty feud just goes to show how professional and polished the Premier League business model is. While the Spanish media giants battle thus preventing us from watching many of the top Spanish games, the Premier League is growing in popularity. The quality of the production continues to improve, and the level of entertainment on the pitch is still exciting to watch.
There were more reasons than ever before for new and old soccer fans to watch La Liga this season. The interest is seeing Thierry Henry play at Barcelona. The continual rise of Sevilla and their wonderful art of football. The strengthening of the Real Madrid side and the prospect of watching how Arjen Robben would adapt to the Spanish game. The list goes on and on.
The situation is so terrible with the media war that even viewers in Spain are suffering (you have to read the report from Mando at La Liga Talk, who is currently in Spain, to comprehend how unpredictable and atrocious the war has become).
In the United States, the company that is suffering the most from the war in Spain is undoubtedly GolTV who have been able to show only some matches. The momentum that GolTV was building after La Liga followed by Copa America was impressive. Now the balloon has burst and it’s going to take time to rebuild once the media war concludes. Sadly no one knows how long this affair can drag on.
What it illustrates, though, is that despite the Premier League having arguably an inferior product to La Liga (on the pitch, that is) that the winner is the one who can provide a consistent quality product. Right now, the quality may be evident on the pitches across Spain, but if the world isn’t watching it, we’re missing out and that’s a crying shame.
This isn’t a short-term issue either. Even after the media war concludes, sports networks around the world must be wondering whether a media war like this can raise its ugly head once again. It’s not only the soccer fans that are suffering, but so too is the trust and business relationships that La Liga previously enjoyed with broadcasters. That loss of trust could take years to fix.