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How the TV War Between La Liga And EPL May Impact You


There’s a TV war in our midst and it’s between La Liga and the Premier League as they both pursue the Asian market and try to become a leader on that continent. However, the war will have repercussions for football viewers around the world.

Up until now, the battle between the Premier League and La Liga has been very one-sided globally with the continued success of the English variety. But according to The Independent newspaper, La Liga is about to fire a shot across the Premier League’s bow by moving some of its games to earlier kick-off times so they’re in direct competition against the Premiership.

Saturday league games have traditionally kicked off in the evening (and sometimes very late evening) in Spain as opposed to the early-to-mid-afternoon times in England. But that may be about to change because of Asia.

For example, the Premier League kickoff times on Saturday afternoons are perfect for the Asian market. The 12:45pm UK game kicks off on television at 7:45pm in Hong Kong, while the 3pm UK matches are shown at 10pm Hong Kong time. These are ideal times for the Asian market, while the Saturday 5:30pm UK kickoff begins at the less convenient time of 12:30am Hong Kong time.

What La Liga officials state will happen this season is that some Spanish league matches will be moved earlier to a 3pm local time kickoff. This translates to a 9pm kickoff time in Hong Kong (and a 9am ET kickoff time for the eastern timezone of the United States).

It’s a smart move by La Liga because the 9pm Hong Kong kickoff time supersedes the 10pm Premier League kickoff time. Imagine if the Saturday, November 28th game between Barcelona and Real Madrid is played at 9pm Hong Kong time. It means that the focus of the continent (and the rest of the world) will be on el Clasico and far fewer people would care about the Premier League matches that day.

For viewers in the United States, imagine what would happen. ESPN could be faced with the choice of showing a 7:45am ET Premier League match or showing the 9am ET el Clasico instead. You can guess which one they’d show due to the massive TV ratings the Spanish match would generate.

Plus, there’s always a chance that La Liga clubs may decide to have some matches kick off even earlier than the 3pm local time start, which will make the times even more favorable for the Asian market and will give the Premier League’s 12:45pm UK time match competition. A few months ago Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez had suggested playing the matches at midday in Spain in order to boost the audience potential to 1.8 billion people, according to CCTV.

All of this right now is conjecture because Spanish league officials still need to get approval from the clubs in La Liga as well as the television companies, but if the deal does go through, it’ll be interesting to see how the Premier League responds.

The stark reality for La Liga is that outside of el Clasico, the popularity and skill levels of the clubs is definitely lacking and has a long way to go before it rivals the Premier League. The production level of the Premier League on television is far superior to La Liga, but the opportunity exists for the Spanish league to make improvements and to chisel away at the Premier League’s market share. The Premier League is quite a formidable opponent, but it’s important for the English league not to rest on its laurels and to continue making sure that the quality of the football on display is the best in the world.

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  1. daredevilla

    August 23, 2010 at 5:45 am

    I b’liv dat dat epl is been spoilt by teams like man city. Displaying only cash and no affection towards footbal. Da quality is like not there. Epl is turning out to be only business. I don speak in favour of serie a either. But u cannot compare any league with la liga. Even if el classico teams top the table very often the rest are always trying to pull their leg with some superb football. I agree dat last season was forgettable for other teams for their title credentials but still there was serious drama until the last day and the final whistle. This is what la liga stands for. Therefore anyone who compare it to epl is the gr8est dumb ass………….

  2. olivert

    September 29, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    In my opinion, the only La Liga match that should be moved up to an afternoon kickoff is el clasico (Barcelona vs Real Madrid).

    The proposed afternoon kickoff time benefits 2 La Liga clubs and those 2 clubs ONLY.

    The rest of La Liga does not have much if any brand recognition in East and Southeast Asia.

    If La Liga were to approve the afternoon kickoff experiment, the experiment should be limited in my opinion with el clasico for the 2009-2010 season.

  3. Adam Howard

    September 29, 2009 at 5:04 am

    This will be interesting indeed, though I think there are few games from Spain apart from El Classico that will challenge the Premier League.

    I think I recognise some of my own work in the image too 😉

  4. brn442

    September 28, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Leeboy, I’m not sure what La Liga you’re looking at, as most knowledgeable football fans would say that (1) La Liga players are on average; technically superior to those in the EPL. And (2) your point about the EPL being “more open and less set in stone than ever” yes, compared to itself but how many different teams have won the English title or have finished in the top four the last 15 years as opposed the teams in La Liga.

    The problem has more to do with the gap in global team branding, as opposed to quality between Barcelona/Madrid and the rest of La Liga. The Valencias , Espanyols, and Athletico Madrids have to do more leg work in building a larger fan base outside of Europe. I grew up on English Football so I can’t be 100% objective but for me it’s the most entertaining league in the world, the atmosphere (especially for television) is far better than any major league in Europe except maybe, Germany. Serie A and La Liga have to get serious about investing money in more fan friendly stadia and negotiating a common television contract so the “lesser clubs” can get a more equitable share of TV revenue and a more consistent TV production of matches. I don’t think that will happen until Spanish and Italian clubs get more foreign investment.

  5. Terry

    September 28, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Unless the Chinese are into diving, crying, whining and generally lopsided and unappealing football, the Premier League has nothing to worry about.

    La Liga is inferior to the EPL in every way popular. If we didn’t have so many Latins in the US who insisted on forcing the league and Serie A on us, no one would care here either.

    • La Liga is the Best

      May 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      epl sucks, style of football of the epl run run run like crazy shoot shoot long passes to see if the defenders mess up = no brain football, to play in La Liga you really have to have talent technical skill and the ability to make good passes unlike your boring long ball football there is nothing more pathetic to watch than a game between the top 4 and the other ones, Arsenal makes a mockery of your clubs and they were completely destroyed by Barcelona!

  6. Panda

    September 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    ESPN would obviously air one game on “the Ocho” and depending on the Premier League matchup, it would ironically be the English teams not on ESPN2.

    All joking aside, if this scenario ever occurred in the US it wouldn’t be a problem unless it happened in the middle of College Football season. They can easily broadcast both games on their various networks. If it’s college football season, the idea of BPL vs La Liga is moot since they could only air the early PL game. Madrid/Barca would be the only exception of course.

  7. olivert

    September 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

    1. EPL chose not to schedule a 1245 London Time match on Saturday November 28 because the English FA Cup has scheduled a 2nd round match in that time slot (for broadcast in the UK on either BBC1 or ESPN UK; match will air in Asia except Thailand on STAR Sports Asia and in China on various free-to-air provincial sports channels).

    (That means ESPN2 US’s EPL telecast on Saturday November 28 will be at 10am ET, not 7:45am ET.)

    2. If La Liga were to schedule el Clasico on Saturday November 28 at 1300 CET, the kickoff time would translate to 8pm Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore Standard Time (7 hours of time difference instead of 6 because Europe will be on back standard time instead of summer time). CCTV5, a central-government-owned free-to-air sports TV channel which is available to over 300 million households in China, will air the match.

    Having personally asked FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta regarding the early kickoff issue after he lectured at Stanford University in May 2007 (he admitted that he had discussed the issue with Real Madrid CF officials, and he also told me that the two clasicos during the 2006-2007 seasons drew over 5 million TV viewers on CCTV5 in China despite the awful telecast times of 0400 and 0500 Beijing Time), and having read the recent quotes from Perez and Butragueno, I suspect both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC have been planning for several years an early kickoff for the next el clasico on November 28, 2009

    How early will the match kick off? We shall find out soon enough whether the kickoff time will be 1300, 1400, or 1500 CET.

    I am betting on 1300 CET for marketing reasons: imagine what the government-owned lottery commissions in China will be able to market a special sports lottery that will be built around el clasico on the “28th” day of November at “8pm” Hong Kong/Beijing Time.

  8. TT

    September 28, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Wonder how much Nakamura signing for Espanyol has had to do with this. What I do know is that a lot of Spanish clubs and their fans are complaining about earlier matches because of the warm weather still.

    • olivert

      September 28, 2009 at 10:52 am

      Nakamura signing with Espanyol has nothing to do with the early kickoff proposal.

      The two La Liga clubs that have been pushing for early kickoff are Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona, and the TV market these two clubs have been chasing after is Mainland China, where el clasico is televised live on government-owned free-to-air sports TV channel CCTV5, which clears over 300 million TV households.

      Each percentage point in TV rating on CCTV5 translates to 3 million TV households and over 5 million TV viewers.

  9. Leeboy

    September 28, 2009 at 8:01 am

    “The stark reality for La Liga is that outside of el Clasico, the popularity and skill levels of the clubs is definitely lacking and has a long way to go before it rivals the Premier League. The production level of the Premier League on television is far superior to La Liga”

    These 2 points are critical.
    The Premier League is more interesting than La Liga because despite recent history, the league is far more open and the top 4 less set in stone than ever. Contrast that to Spain where the El Clasico teams dominate much like Celtic and Rangers in the SPL.
    Secondly, every match is covered by a full outside broadcast unit, whether it be Sky/ESPN or TWI, meaning any game can be shown live. I’d expect all coverage to switch to HD within the next couple of seasons too.

    • olivert

      September 28, 2009 at 3:11 pm

      Starting with the 2009-2010 season, MEDIAPRO produces every La Liga match for both domestic and international distribution.

      In the past, MEDIAPRO and AudioVisual Sport (SogaCable) split the production of La Liga matches.

      Every La Liga match had been produced for TV for many years. Every La Liga match is televised in Spain: one match free-to-air, one match on pay TV, and the rest on pay-per-view.

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