International TV rights for La Liga are a mess


On August 15, the 2015/16 season of La Liga will kick off with millions of soccer fans around the world tuning in to watch one of the most popular leagues in the world. However, with 46 days to go until the new season kicks off, the league and its clubs are still bickering over how the TV rights will be sold and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution forthcoming in the near future.

To make matters worse, there’s one more catch regarding the bidding for TV rights to La Liga: League champions Barcelona are not currently involved in the package deal.

Barcelona, along with Celta Vigo, Espanyol and Real Sociedad, are to be excluded from any international television rights deal in the La Liga package because the four Spanish clubs recently agreed to broadcast their matches through the telecom company Telefonica.  The other 38 clubs from the top two divisions in Spain will have their rights sold via Mediapro.

So that means, as things currently stand in the United States, TV networks such as FOX Sports, ESPN, beIN SPORTS and others would have to bid on the Barcelona TV package separately from the package for La Liga — instead of one network having all of the rights.

Meanwhile, it was previously thought that Real Madrid were also not a part of the deal with Mediapro, as rumors were that the Spanish giants had an agreement in place with Microsoft. However, a Microsoft spokesperson recently declared that any deal with Real Madrid would not include audio/video rights.

The Spanish league said in a statement published on Monday, “In the event that La Liga does not hold all the audiovisual rights for the 2015-16 season, the amount due to the clubs that it does have the rights for will be negotiated.”

Javier Tebas, La Liga’s president, said last week he hoped agreement could be reached with Barcelona and the other three clubs “in coming years.”

An international television deal without the reigning league champions, as well as the Champions League holders, would be a disaster for the Spanish league. With their kind of fanbase, some fans may only decide to pay for TV providers that only offer Barcelona games and may find illegal ways to watch the other league games. Vice-versa, a La Liga TV rights package with Real Madrid and other teams except Barcelona will be a lot less valuable than a package that contains all of the teams involved.

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