Discussions will begin to take place this week to determine who will be the next rights holder in the United States for La Liga, Spain’s top flight soccer league.
The current US TV rights deal for La Liga expires at the end of the 2014/15 season in late May. Representatives from La Liga amd Mediapro were in Miami last week to begin preliminary talks.
The current rights holder, beIN SPORTS, who acquired the US TV rights to La Liga in 2012 after bidding more than incumbent GolTV and other media companies, is expected to face tougher competition from other sports networks particularly as el Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid continues to be a ratings juggernaut.
Distribution is one of the factors that’s important to La Liga as representatives look ahead to the next rights deal. beIN SPORTS is currently in 16.9 million households compared to 94 million for ESPN, 84 million for FOX Sports 1, 81 million for NBCSN and 21 million for FOX Deportes.
According to a World Soccer Talk source, Univision Deportes Network has thrown its hat in the ring to try to acquire rights to La Liga.
There’s no indication yet which other media companies are involved in the bidding. However, one network that has ruled itself out of bidding is ESPN Deportes.
“As of right now, we’re not taking an active role in going after [La Liga],” said ESPN Deportes General Manager Lino Garcia. “Anything could change. It’s certainly a very, very attractive property. It sold for 3-4 times what it did previously, so it has to be a very important strategic move to go after a property that’s priced that way.”
The timing of the talks with La Liga couldn’t have come at a better time after an estimated 400 million people watched Barcelona against Real Madrid worldwide in the 2015 edition of el Clasico. As of press time, viewing figures were not available for the game on beIN SPORTS.