Social media giant Facebook, the LaLiga media rights holder for the Indian subcontinent, has said that it is open to work with the broadcasters in the region to ensure widest possible reach for the top division Spanish football.
The social media giant has acquired the Spanish First Division Football – LaLiga – rights for the Indian subcontinent – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives – in a three-year deal.
InsideSport.co was first to report the Facebook’s acquisition of LaLiga rights for the Indian Subcontinent for three seasons spanning from 2018-19 to 2020-21 in deal reportedly worth $32 million. Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) earlier owned the rights.
The deal will cover all 380 matches per season for free to viewers in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The coverage will be available live and on demand via multiple devices.
Facebook head of global live sports programming Peter Hutton noted that the LaLiga deal is not a threat to broadcasters. “We have rights to work with broadcasters and we may bring in partners to make sure the experience is right. What’s clear about this is that 380 games will be available on Facebook, then we’ll keep our options open as to how we spread that content out so people can see it in as many ways as possible,” Hutton had told Reuters.
Hutton described the LaLiga acquisition as an experiment. The social network is also eyeing other sports deals. That said, the company will not be on a buying spree. “We’re looking at specific rights in specific markets and to try to learn from data from those experiences and work out what the next step is. If you rush into too many deals at once, you can’t do it properly,” he said.
Facebook will not air any advertisements initially. However, it may look at ad revenue in the latter stages. Facebook is doing trials in advertising on live content in the United States. This may also be replicated on its La Liga coverage.
Hutton also said that apart from the live games, there will be other programmes like studio discussion, preview shows, and highlights.
This will be Facebook’s maiden sports content acquisition for the Indian territory after Sony Pictures Network India, the incumbent La Liga rights holder in India, had decided against retaining the rights in wake of the aggressively high pitch by the social media giant.
SPN had acquired the broadcast rights for the Spanish First Division football league in a $32 million deal four years ago. The deal inked in 2014 ran till May 2018. Sony, it was learnt by Insidesport.co, did not renew the deal as it found no business sense in paying beyond a point. While sources in SPN have confirmed that they did not renew the LaLiga deal as the required investment for renewal of the rights made little business sense for them.
The social media platform had given first hints of its aggressive entry into sports broadcast business with a ₹3,900 crore, albeit unsuccessful, bid for the Indian Premier League digital rights last year. Ever since, it has been on a major acquisition and hiring spree – getting two sports broadcast legends Peter Hutton and Joyee Biswas on board.
Eurosport’s former chief executive Peter Hutton heads Facebook’s global live sports programming division, with a brief to increase the platform’s sports offering. while former of Eleven Sports MD in Asia, Biswas is in charge to boost Facebook’s sports and entertainment portfolio in the Asian market.
Facebook also recently has acquired another precious football property, the English Premier League for the South East Asian territories, while the digital platform is reportedly engaged in talks with football icon Cristiano Ronaldo for an exclusive reality show worth $10 million (₹ 70 crores approximately).