ESPN’s ambitious plans for LaLiga’s first game on broadcast TV

A match from LaLiga will be aired this weekend live for the first time ever on broadcast television in the United States. With ESPN’s family of networks taking over LaLiga coverage in the United States until 2028-29, this weekend will be the first gameweek of the historic ESPN/LaLiga partnership.

To celebrate the occasion, ESPN will be bringing an entire crew to FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou to cover the game on-site, live from Spain. It’s just part of what is an impressive lineup of coverage all weekend long.

Opening Weekend in LaLiga

Starting today through Sunday, ESPN+ will feature appearances from Camp Nou throughout their pre-match shows. Then, on Sunday, a 30-minute pregame show will air in its entirety from a remote set inside Camp Nou.

This season is LaLiga’s 91st. As well as the standard broadcasting of games and the four pre-match shows, ESPN is also producing studio segments, newsmaker interviews and more, according to the company. Also, with ESPN’s commitment to building an international audience, all games will be broadcast in both English and Spanish. All games will be available to stream through ESPN+ in both languages.

The FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad match will set a landmark moment for the sport in the United States. Previously, ESPN televised the Copa del Rey on national television, but there’s no denying that airing the league on broadcast television is a crowning achievement for LaLiga. Given the distribution problems that beIN SPORTS experienced over nine years of having the exclusive rights to the league, the new deal under ESPN must feel like such a relief for LaLiga.

While Barcelona-Real Sociedad will air on Sunday, August 15 across ABC, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes (2PM ET kickoff), all the other nine games on the docket will require an ESPN+ subscription.

The talent making the trip

Of the talent that will be seen or heard from ESPN across the opening weekend of LaLiga coverage, they will include:

English play-by-play commentators highlighted by Ian Darke. The cult hero Darke is a notable voice in the commentary world. Throughout his career so far, he has covered European Championships, Champions Leagues and World Cups. Darke will be working with analyst Steve McManaman and reporter Alexis Nunes.

ESPN’s crew will work from a remote set inside of Camp Nou, with some familiar names on site. Dan Thomas, Alejandro Moreno and Luis Garcia all reprise their roles behind the ESPN FC desk. They are joined by former Manchester City player Pablo Zabaleta, who makes his debut for the channel.

On the Spanish side, Fernando Palomo headlines play-by-play duties. He will be working with analyst Mario Kempes. The duo will have Moises Llorens as their reporter during the FC Barcelona-Real Sociedad matchup.

With the popularity of the sport on ESPN Deportes, ESPN is also airing a number of their programs from Barcelona to air on the Spanish side.

Among these programs are SportsCenter, Fuera de Juego, Futbol center and Ahora o Nunca, to name a few.

The Season as a Whole

With the deal between ESPN and LaLiga, all 380 matches in the 2021-22 season will be able available through ESPN+ with a select number of games being broadcast nationally. The first of those is the Barcelona – Real Sociedad opener.

However, the groundbreaking game for streaming on ESPN+ and LaLiga goes to Getafe and Valencia, which will be the first LaLiga game that ESPN+ will broadcast (Friday at 3PM ET). ESPN is making sure to give the game its own pre-match show on ESPN+ to welcome the league.

READ MORE: Schedule of LaLiga games on US TV and streaming

As a statement of intent from the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader In Sports, ESPN’s coverage of LaLiga taps into 33 seasoned professionals for its multilingual audience. Streaming, broadcasting and social interaction are at the forefront of what ESPN is building with LaLiga, and that starts with a busy weekend slate of games.

LaLiga’s biggest star, Leo Messi may be gone, but there is always reason to watch some of Europe’s biggest teams face off.

Learn more about ESPN+ and where to watch LaLiga on U.S. TV.

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