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ESPN is overhyping LaLiga this season

In the NEW episode, number 248, Christopher Harris is joined by co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer to discuss several topics:

• The crystal ball reveals who is getting MLS rights,
• A new soccer documentary hits the airwaves about one of Europe’s top institutions,
• Spectrum TV throws English soccer fans a bone,
• Why MLS is not in a New York state of mind,
• What USA Network’s Premier League coverage will look like,
• Broadcasters don’t need to hype leagues that do their talking on the pitch,
• How ESPN is overhyping LaLiga this season,
• And we answer your questions in the Listener Mailbag segment.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. Ivan

    December 21, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    La Liga remains a top 4 football league in the world. Nothing to overhype there. The quality is outstanding.

    Over the last 2 days I saw good portions of Valencia Levante which was a feast, then Villareal Alaves and Sevilla Barcelona, top level games. Villareal are very enjoyable to watch.

    The Mouse should show at least a game from La Loga every Sunday on ABC.

  2. Don Dickerson

    December 20, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Should they have maybe hyped other matches sure I guess but I’m sure they will never hype an early morning match no matter who it is.

    And well year over year they hype every Monday night game or NBC hyping any Sunday night game even if it’s say Jacksonville vs Miami.

    Everyone knows what matches are going to be worth watching. Hell I know most love the 1 vs 2 match even if 1 has a 9 point advantage in the standings, but as for me coming down the stretch I’ll be watching way more relegation battles especially when you have Augsburg, Stuttgart and Bielefeld not to mention those a couple points ahead of them.

    I’ll also be watching Barcelona and Juventus to see if they can find there way and possibly have a streak of wins to get them into the Champions League positions without there stars from last year.

    The 1st half of 2023 is shaping up to be awesome and I hope fans can be present to see it all.

  3. dave

    December 18, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    @TheOriginalTom, 2016 METAR (hourly airport weather) data supports your observation about Denver and provides insight as to the all-day oppressiveness of southern summers. Looking at averages by Zulu hour for January 2016 and July 2016:
    Denver (Jan 2016):
    * Highest mean temperature 21Z (2 pm local) is 41F
    * Lowest mean temperature 13Z (6 am local) is 25F
    * Mean dewpoint by hour ranges from 14F to 20F
    Denver (Jul 2016):
    * Highest mean temperature 21Z (3 pm local) is 89F
    * Lowest mean temperature 12Z (6 am local) is 63F
    * Mean dewpoint by hour ranges from 42F to 51F
    New Orleans (Jul 2016):
    * Highest mean temperature 17Z (12 pm local) is 90F
    * Lowest mean temperature 11Z (6 am local) is 81F
    * Mean dewpoint by hour ranges from 74F to 77F
    Miami (Jul 2016):
    * Highest mean temperature 18Z (2 pm local) is 89F
    * Lowest mean temperature 10Z (6 am local) is 81F
    * Mean dewpoint by hour ranges from 74F to 75F
    Dew points between 30F and 55F are generally considered “pleasant” while dew points around 60F are “muggy” and dew points of 70+F are “oppressive to even potentially dangerous”. The Gulf Coast and environs get very little relief from heat and (especially) humidity during summer.

  4. TheOriginalTom

    December 18, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Regarding the MLS season schedule comments read on this POD. — In general, when discussing winter verse summer schedule, I rarely see kick-off times discussed but I think it is a major factor. I am in Colorado and much prefer summer games over winter games. But if winter (including late fall and early spring) games must be played, they are much more tolerable as day time kick offs. 2 PM can be pleasant in the winter, 8PM never is. Conversely, in the summer, evening kick-offs are beautiful, perfect conditions for spectating after a full day of one’s own activities. I’ve never lived in Florida or Texas, but does it not cool off in the summer evenings?

  5. jason

    December 18, 2021 at 9:51 am

    How about WST talk about why so many football players are collapsing. And perhaps the possible connection to it…ahem****jab***ahem. This playes were collapsing at this rate in 2019 it would be the biggest story in the world. Today…silence.

  6. dave

    December 17, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Good discussion as always. While I often agree with your perspectives, I see it differently in two areas:
    1) ESPN tirelessly promote almost everything. Whether that is “overhype” depends on how much you enjoy the property. I do not follow Bundesliga or La Liga, so perhaps you are just comparing and contrasting those? With mainstream sports on ESPN, there is very frequent promotion of other ESPN programming every time I watch. FYI, ESPN+ advertise a lot for La Liga during soccer games on Univision, which supports your perspective.
    2) Perhaps there are more thunderstorms, but I think a bigger impact is changed thresholds for allowing fans and players in outdoor stadiums. Many policies are like no lightning within 15 miles for 30 minutes. In very humid areas, that pretty much rules out every afternoon and evening all summer! Contrast with daily life where people barbecue, play at the park, etc., until rain or increasingly loud thunder drives them inside. Not saying leagues are wrong, but sports thunder policies used to be more permissive, meaning fewer cancellations and shorter delays.
    On a few other subjects:
    * MLS rights news is interesting. Spanish rights to ESPN+ also? I have a similar reaction as @Mercator to the B/R app. It is not so much the money as that it is one of the worst iPad apps I ever used. I was very happy when Champions League found a new home.
    * The data you shared on Portland vs. NYC MLS final TV ratings is fascinating! While 1% of the NYC metro is about as many viewers as 10% of the Portland metro, I am curious what other metros outperform when it comes to percentage of people watching soccer or MLS or the local team or etc.

  7. FlatBackFour

    December 17, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    La Liga is vastly inferior to both Serie A and the Bundesliga, who are in turn inferior to the Premier League. The ESPN FC coverage of La Liga is over the top, and to make it worse, Paramount+ coverage of Serie A is a shambles compared to how ESPN+ covered it in past years.

  8. Ra

    December 17, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    @greg Do you know what I’d really like to see? Each league launching its own DTC app. They could do much more than what is currently done. UHD, tactical view, stats, star cam, etc.
    Similar to what F1 does with F1TV, but including 4k stream.
    I would rather pay $10 to have a superb product for a single league than to pay $5-7 for a mediocre product for a bunch of leagues. I don’t have enough time to watch them all anyway…

  9. greg

    December 17, 2021 at 11:56 am

    If I’m getting the tone of comments, right, if one likes LaLiga & is happy with ESPN’s coverage, you’re an apologist. Ok (shrug emoticon here) **

    And some leagues are better than others because “they’re the leagues I watch but truth be told I’ve only watched like 50 minutes of one match of the league I claim is worse than the leagues I love.” Ok (shrug emoticon here)

    Again, you can really only pay attention to so many different leagues. Truth is there’s drama and good football to be found in all these leagues, there’s stars & exciting players in all the leagues. Ligue 1 has been tons of fun this year. So like what you like, cool. Enjoy it. But again, there’s good stuff and drama all around, so be thankful it’s a question of too much to chose from rather than the 1980s where it was Soccer Made in Germany, the NASL…and that’s it.

    We’ve come a long, long way.

    ** I’ll concede that ESPN is by and large doing the Bundesliga dirty by not giving it La Liga type attention, but then they didn’t pay as much for it. But if you’re the Bundesliga, what do you do when this deal is up? Honestly, I’d stay with ESPN. You get all matches at least on streaming and decent attention on ESPN FC.

    Also, re: Barca, forgot Dembele. If Xavi can turn him around, keep him fit and get him to re-up with the club, again, they could be a very fun team to watch.

  10. Ra

    December 17, 2021 at 10:32 am

    @Azer Agree that Bundesliga and Serie A are more fun than LaLiga. My point is that there seems to be a bias for/against some leagues. If ESPN was overhyping MLS or EPL, many here would say what a wonderful job ESPN was doing to promote these leagues. (a fanfest sounds pretty stupid if you ask me).
    I personally would like to see a more even coverage of ESPN between LaLiga, Bundesliga, and Eredivisie. I don’t watch ESPN FC because they hardly speak of anything that is not LaLiga or EPL.

  11. Leo

    December 17, 2021 at 10:09 am

    La Liga teams has never been known for practicing super attractive soccer except Barcelona’s from 2008-2012. Its trademark has always been their mental strength, We just saw Villarreal defeating Man United in a final few months ago. Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico and Sevilla rarely lost a european final this century. With that said, I don’t think I have watched watch more than 100 minutes in total from La Liga this season. I have plenty with Bundesliga. However, Madrid can perfectly win UEFA Champions League this season because you don’t need to be the best to win this tournament (we have Chelsea as example).

  12. Azer

    December 17, 2021 at 8:49 am

    Serie A is million times better than La Liga. Eredivisie is better than La Liga as it’s the Bundesliga even though FC Bayern Munchen is always on top. La Liga is dull, boring to watch.

  13. MIB Fan

    December 17, 2021 at 7:25 am

    Let’s rename this comments section the ESPN Apologists

  14. Michael

    December 16, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    @greg I agree totally about both Barca & Gunners. La Liga is in a great place, and it will be a long time relationship. The difference between having to find the games on beIN and ESPN+ is a world of difference.

  15. greg

    December 16, 2021 at 10:49 pm

    @Michael – Barca’s young players – Pedri, Gavi, Ansu Fati & a couple of others, have the potential to make them very fun to watch for a while. Not unlike Arsenal right now with Smith-Rowe, Saka, Ødegård and a few others. Add the right vets or keep DeJong happy & productive and Memphis contributing and there’s something special there. If Mbappe comes to Real as expected and Barca add a top-name…there’ll be stars to talk about and some other fun teams to watch. If ESPN stay with it they’ll have a good product to present.

  16. Michael

    December 16, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Well It is ok if Chris doesn’t like La Liga, as long as it doesn’t keep him from producing 🙂 I personally love the coverage that ESPN been given La Liga. I watch all the La Liga Highlight shows, I was the ESPN FC much more now that they lead with La Liga. I watch three times as many La Liga games now that when they were on beIN Sports. When they were on beIN I would watch Barca every week, Sevilla when it didn’t conflict with Church, and then who ever Barca would play the next week. That’s it. ESPN+ is accessible that I am to pretty much watch all of the La Liga games. I am overjoyed that they put La Liga on ESPN+ not only is better for fans, but it is easier for Disney to monetize it. As the subscriptions for ESPN+ continue to rise it becomes much more of a value. It was a disappointment to not have Messi run it back one more time…but Messi leaving Barca is the best thing that could have happen. They had one of the oldest teams in the world. It is good to get the old greats cleared out and ride away to the sunset, and then gets some young ones in. Viva La Liga.

  17. Mercator

    December 16, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Don’t we want them to hype La Liga? The game wasn’t great but its one of the few marquee La Liga matchups so I would expect ESPN to promote it well. Personally I find it more entertaining to watch Barca get embarrassed regularly.

    For MLS, almost everything on ESPN+ with a few national games done by TNT would be ideal. TNT does great with basketball and I’ve heard good things about their NHL broadcasts as well. Hopefully nothing on HBO Max, or worse BR. Never watching BR again after the Champions League nonsense and I’m simply not paying $15 a month for HBO Max for a few MLS games.

    I’ve said my piece about MLS and the NY market. It’s 20 million people, it will move the needle if you have real teams there. Obviously no one is going to get very excited for Man City B team in a baseball stadium. I still watched mostly for NYCFC though – Castellanos is a gem and the usual Portland/Seattle stuff just gets repetitive and doesn’t interest me much.

  18. Ra

    December 16, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    @locofooty There is definitely some bias there. Chris seems to be no fan of Bayern also. In the other podcast, he was very fast to dismiss them as a strong UCL title contender. Amazon just released a documentary on Bayern that is quite good that went unmentioned.
    Bayern is one of the teams I admire the most. Their administration has been brilliant for generations. And all this in a democratic club owned by the members (75%), where they can pass any kind of motion and without the money from an oligarch or oil state. DW launched a series of 3 episodes on the 50+1 rule in DE that is quite good and informative. I recommend:
    https //

  19. greg

    December 16, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    In a way it’s like Ra’s argument about EPL…you can’t be a deep fan of every league and know all the story lines. So casual fans of any league could find it underwhelming if the hype is too much. And that’s fine. Again, it’s all choice and the amount of time you have to watch, read soccer news, listen to pods. But writing La Liga off so early is a bit knee-jerk.

  20. locofooty

    December 16, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you Greg. Haven’t heard the podcast yet, but Chris every now and then has mentioned how La Liga just doesn’t captivate him. They did start slow with no fans on the stands and gradually increased capacity. Now the atmosphere in the stadiums is excellent. Yeah, the big cache names aren’t there anymore, but still plenty of good futbol around and a lot left to play for. I also wonder whether he’s watching the matches. Maybe it’s a cultural thing :p

  21. greg

    December 16, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    Wait, are you all really suggesting ESPN is doing a bad thing in hyping a product they spent lots of money to air? Yeah, not every match lives up to the hype, but how often do matches like the Manchester or North London derbies? Or Liverpool v Man City or Liverpool v Man U?

    ESPN is in the early stages of showing the league…educating casual viewers, treating it seriously. They’re doing what I’d expect them to do.

    And wait, Betis isn’t interesting? They have an attack-minded approach, Pelligrini has them playing well. Are you actually watching the matches? Have you watched any Rayo home matches? Fantastic atmosphere, they play well. Real Sociedad are fun to watch, as are Athletic Bilbao & Villareal…their problem is like Brighton…fun to watch but can’t score enough. Yes, Elche, Cadiz and Levante are meh. Bordelas has Valencia playing anti-football, but every league has teams like that. For the last few years the Eibar story was great, a small Bournemouth-like club staying up lots longer than people thought they would.

    You’re correct that Real Madrid have pulled away, but we know going in to most La Liga seasons that the drama isn’t really the title race; it’ll almost always be Barca or Real Madrid. The drama is in the 2-4 placements, and the Euro slots, the relegation.

    Philly is a tough sports market but it’s long been a good soccer city and the Union are also benefiting from the lackluster showing of the other major sports teams there.
    Agree on the Amazon Juve doc. It’s awful. I do wonder if like Real World or Survivor in that once you get past the 2nd iteration of a reality show people start playing to the camera, you get no spontaneity, and clubs only allow access if the filmmakers promise not to show them in a bad light. Amazon needs the club for the product more than the club needs Amazon. A more interesting All or Nothing would be a mid-table team who really need the exposure, not a top team that will be ok without it.

    Great idea for the local club initiative. Good luck with that.

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