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ESPN agrees $1.4 billion rights deal for Spain’s La Liga

Spanish La Liga talent like Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right and Levante's Ruben Vezo will appear on US television screens on ESPN in a record deal announced by the sports broadcast network on Thursday

US sports broadcasting giant ESPN has acquired television rights for Spain’s La Liga in a record deal worth $1.4 billion over the next eight seasons starting from the 2021-2022 campaign, the company said Thursday.

A statement from ESPN said all 380 La Liga games each season would be available live through its streaming platform ESPN+, with selected games on its traditional ESPN networks.

The deal covers English and Spanish language broadcasts and also includes La Liga’s second division fixtures.

ESPN already broadcasts other domestic Spanish competitions including the Copa del Rey and Spanish Supercup.

The value of the agreement was not revealed in the ESPN statement but a source with knowledge of the deal confirmed to AFP it was worth $1.4 billion or $175 million for each of the eight seasons covered.

The deal is the most lucrative television deal by a US broadcaster for an overseas soccer league, eclipsing the $1 billion paid by NBC for rights to broadcast the English Premier League. NBC’s six-year agreement with the Premier League runs until 2022.

“This agreement will bring the excitement, passion, iconic clubs and global superstars of La Liga to US sports fans with unprecedented access and coverage,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming & original content.

“As the sport of soccer continues its ascendance in the US market, we are incredibly excited to work with La Liga to establish a deeper connection to American fans through our company’s industry-leading streaming platforms, television networks, and digital and social media assets.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas hailed the deal as a “historic” agreement.

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“We are absolutely thrilled to bring La Liga to ESPN in the US,” Tebas said.

“This is an historic eight-season agreement in US soccer broadcasting that speaks to the power of La Liga and its clubs in the largest media market in the world and will bring the world’s best soccer league to American screens in a more comprehensive and modern way than ever before.”

The deal also includes rights for Canada, with games being shown via the TSN and RDS networks.

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