ESPN Gets La Liga TV Rights In U.S.


ESPN has made a significant move today by announcing that GolTV has sublicensed some of its U.S. TV rights of La Liga coverage to ESPN.

In March of this year, GolTV announced that it had renewed its rights to La Liga TV coverage in the United States for another three seasons. Now, GolTV has sub-licensed a portion of its La Liga TV coverage to ESPN in a move that compensates for ESPN losing its Champions League TV coverage for the next three years to Fox Soccer Channel.

What this means is that beginning next season, ESPN Deportes has the option to air up to 114 matches (although at this time is plans to show 95 regular-season games), while ESPN2 will present approximately 20 in windows that ESPN Deportes general manager Lino Garcia said “won’t conflict with the network’s schedule.”

Further, ESPN Radio will air select games, while Deportes’, mobile and online holdings will be able to air extensive footage.

GolTV and ESPN will alternate selections on week-to-week basis, choosing from six matches. “We will share the games with the top teams with our partner,” said Garcia.

The deal raises ESPN Deportes game, as well as the profile and live lineup of broadband service,, which will simulcast the matches that air linearly on its  Spanish-language sister service and ESPN2.

The deal between GolTV and ESPN is a smart one for both parties. After recent cuts, GolTV will assuredly welcome ESPN’s money to sublicense their U.S. TV rights to La Liga. Plus, GolTV may gain a lot more visibility in the marketplace by ESPN and GolTV working together in marketing campaigns. For ESPN, this helps fill a massive void left by the Champions League coverage it has lost. And it’s at a better time than any now that Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo have moved to Real Madrid and the interest in La Liga this season will skyrocket.

The move is made even more interesting given that today is the deadline the Premier League has set in the United Kingdom for bids for Setanta’s 46 2009-2010 games. It’s quite possible ESPN may be making a move to try to acquire the packages that Setanta lost in the U.K. at the same time it has sewn up La Liga coverage in the United States.

The U.S. TV rights to the Premier League for 2010-2013 season, meanwhile, will be finalized this Fall. ESPN may be interested in trying to acquire those too to accentuate its coverage of soccer.

37 thoughts on “ESPN Gets La Liga TV Rights In U.S.”

  1. Ugh. As a Comcast customer this is terrible news. This means I can see the best games only every other week when on GolTV.

    When the top games are on ESPN Deportes, I can’t watch because that channel is on a Spanish Language package that I am not paying extra for. If comcast would add Deportes to the Sports package that FSC is on that would be fine but I am not sure if that is in violation of the GolTV agreement for English La Liga coverage.

    In any event, this is bad news for English speaking La Liga fans.

  2. Yup totally forgot that ESPN360 is coming to Comcast in August. So I can’t get the games on TV but can get the games on 360. Good news.

  3. Get ready for an giant crop of new experts on La Liga here in the States. Just like we had international soccer experts during the WC 2006 and will most certainly have them during 2010.

    This is clearly riding the hype of Cron and Kaka but it does mean (some) La Liga in HD (I hope) so it’s not all bad.

    1. Mean’t to say “experts” and of course I’m referring to the new fans and not the actual American commentators that’ll probably be calling these games (at least on ESPN 2). New fans are always a good thing but they’re more or less riding the wave of hype from the Yankees-esque transfers of Kaka and Ron to the Bernabéu and pretty much saying that it’s all about Barça v Madrid.

  4. Ironically, this does nothing but give GOL TV some much needed cash.

    This may be a good thing for hispanic programming in the states, but it stinks for those english language viewers who could see Barca and Real Madrid week in /week out on GOL TV.

    For those fortunate enough to get espn360 you’re in luck. But this doesn’t raise the visibility of La Liga at all in the US.

    It means you’ll be able to see Barcelona – Real Madrid on ESPN2 on tape delay if you don’t have Deportes and it happens to be ESPN’s week.

    Now if the games were being shown live by ESPN2 Saturday and Sunday morning / afternoon that would be a boost.

    This is NOT good news for the majority of La Liga fans.

  5. It’s a shame that TV rights in the United States are so complicated. Why can’t there be one channel that is free-to-air which will air the majority of games? (I’m dreaming).

    For the casual soccer fan who only gets the ESPN networks and perhaps Fox, this is a win for him because he can finally get to see SOME La Liga matches on TV.

    For the die-hard English-speaking soccer fan who subscribes to GolTV, it’s going to be a step backwards I agree.

    For the hispanic audience who gets ESPN Deportes, it’s a huge win. Like many others who commented above, I don’t get ESPN Deportes, so I’m going to miss a lot of the matches that I would have otherwise seen on GolTV as I do now. I’m a Comcast customer. ESPN Deportes is available to me but under the Multicultural package ( I don’t speak Spanish, so I do not intend on adding the package to my service just for one channel.

    But I will get ESPN360 this Fall thanks to the deal ESPN made with Comcast.

    It’s frustrating that TV and internet rights are so complicated. Most of the die-hard soccer fans like ourselves understand it and now know where to get our soccer coverage, but for the casual fan out there, it’s very complicated and expensive. For example, to get the full spectrum of soccer coverage on US TV, I need basic cable plus Fox Soccer Channel (extra cost) plus GolTV (extra cost) plus Setanta Sports (not available in my area) and ESPN Deportes (extra cost). Ay carumba!

    The Gaffer

    1. I figured with Setanta and Fox Soccer Channel I’d be pretty much covered (The EPL and the French Ligue 1 are my only real interests thus far) …but now, who knows what might happen next.

  6. How many windows will ESPN2 actually have in their schedule for the games? La Liga happens at the same time as college football & college basketball seasons here in the US and ESPN2 shows a LOT of those games, especially on Saturdays. Sunday mornings seem pretty open though.

  7. English speaking people will still be able to see the top gamaes eache week.

    The details are not settle, but both channels will show Barcelona and Madrid games. The idea is to show la liga in HD and to promote the game here in the states. There is also a good chance that ESPN will be picking the US Soccer rights that Setanta sports currently has, and some of those rights will be shown in Goltv.

    Please remember that Goltv needs money, and this is a great way of getting money, and additional programming from ESPN. Goltv is a soccer channel and ESPN has other sports.

  8. Sounds like Gol TV is on somewhat more steady footing. Tenfield (the owner) has the pretty successful flagship business down in Uruguay (which handles their domestic league, for instance), a partnership with MLSE/Toronto FC for the Canadian channel, and it doesn’t look like they’ve ever really stretched too thin.

    1. GolTV is basically run on a shoestring production budget. Very tight cost controls.

      With rights fees spiraling out of control, there was no way GolTV could keep 100% of the U.S. video rights to La Liga.

      ESPN, Inc. is the one with the deep pocket right now that can acquire assets at a discount compared to the bubble years.

  9. I’m not sure you would want to listen to some of the commentators ESPN employs for the international channel (found clips on Youtube).

    They do have Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth on many games as usual…..but listen to Dave Roberts or Steve Cangialosi with Shep Messing and you’ll stab your ears.

    It better be Rae and Healey on EVERY game aired on ESPN 2.

  10. 114 games in English live on (i.e. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast starting in August).

    Of those 114 games, 95 will air live in Spanish on ESPN Deportes.

    ESPN2 will take 20 games, most likely via tape-delay.

  11. Could we be seeing the beginning of an ESPN Soccer/Football channel?
    I would pay extra for that on Directv as I am doing right now for Setanta… especially if HD were the format!!

  12. Now that ESPN has the Spanish league, let’s hope ESPN learns to respect soccer fans, finally.
    Thus far it hasn’t.
    Case in point, I hope ESPN or ESPN2 gets rid of that stupid ticker at the bottom of the screen. It is very annoying. If I am at home, I tape black tape over it, so I can watch the game.
    What ESPN has to realize is that soccer fans are different. We actually watch the game, and the soccer game only lasts two hours, it doesn’t drag on for 3 1/2 hours like baseball or American football.
    Soccer is an art form as much as it is a sport, and I have never met a true soccer fan from America or any other country, who likes that stupid ticker at the bottom of the screen on ESPN2. We hate it!
    I could care less about some obscure golf or tennis tournament, and with the internet these days, people interested in such things, or major league baseball scores or whatever, can just go on the internet. ESPN2 having that ticker at the bottom of the screen is just outdated.
    ESPN or ESPN2 will never get the ratings they want from real soccer fans until they get rid of that stupid ticker at the bottom of the screen. FOX soccer doesn’t have it, neither does GOL tv. Real soccer stations don’t have it.
    ESPN needs to be educated about real soccer fans in the U.S. and elsewhere, and learn to respect us, if they want our respect and good ratings.

  13. I hope people call, e-mail, or write to ESPN.
    And tell them to get rid of that stupid sports score ticker on the bottom of the screen when showing soccer matches on ESPN2!

  14. Agreed that the ticker at the bottom of the screen is very very annoying. I am hoping for ESPN Soccer, now with the acquisition of the Primera rights, and the almost certain demise of Setanta.
    I would most certainly pay extra to have such a channel.
    But, yes, ESPN has to show that it respects the game of football first, and not bump the coverage whenever they have college world series games(as last week).
    This is unacceptable!!!

  15. You can blame 9/11 for the tickers. Before that, you rarely saw a ticker, much less one that ran all the time. With the need to push out vital info after 9/11, the tickers were implemented and they’ve never gone away.

  16. So I guess the electrical tape I use to cover the annoying ticker whenever I’m stuck watching football on ESPN (like during the confed cup) will get a lot of time on the tv this season. I hate ESPN’s annoying ticker, annoying broadcasters, and complete lack of knowledge about the global game. I was happy when they lost the Champions league and already get Goltv in english so this is all downside in my opinion. I’ve also yet to know anyone with espn360 out of all my friends and family across the country so that channel getting games is a total joke. I use to get ESPN Deportes but they showed so much baseball and other nonsense instead of football that I canceled. I guess I’ll now need to spend even more to get access to the same games used to get for no additional cost. Awesome.

  17. Most tv stations since 9/11 do not have a stupid ticker at the bottom of the screen like ESPN 2 and ESPN CLASSIC does. Not ABC,NBC, CBS, during their shows. Fox Soccer Channel doesn’t have that either.
    If an emergency happens such as 9/11 they would just go to the news anyway. There is no reason for that stupid sports ticker and soccer fans hate it!

  18. Is it possible that either ESPN or FSC is going to get the German Bundesliga ?
    I have both of those stations on my cable system but do not have Gol tv.

  19. Does anyone know if anyone will be broadcasting the French league this season? (apart from the French channels of course)

  20. Thanks for your reply man, I’ve gone through my channels and don’t seem to receive Setanta US, can it only be viewed in the USA?

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