LaLiga and Premier Sports agree long-term UK rights deal

LaLiga and Premier Sports agree long-term UK rights deal
LaLiga has finalised a long-term rights agreement with Premier Sports to show top-flight Spanish soccer in the UK and Ireland, in a deal which will also see LaLigaTV, the organising body’s own streaming platform, become part of the broadcaster’s linear and over-the-top (OTT) channels.

Under the new arrangement, the pay-TV broadcaster takes over the rights until the end of the 2021/22 LaLiga season, including the remainder of the current campaign, which saw commercial broadcaster ITV complete a short-term contract to air one LaLiga game per week from the opening three rounds.

Premier Sports, which has an existing two-channel bundle on the Sky TV service, will offer live coverage and highlights from LaLiga matches on both channels, as well as its own Premier Player streaming platform. Select match content will also be shown via Premier’s free-to-air (FTA) sister channel, FreeSports.

Under the terms of the agreement, Premier Sports will air a full slate of live LaLiga matches from the next two rounds between 13th and 22nd September, followed by ‘extensive match coverage thereafter’, LaLiga said in a statement. 

The deal also includes Premier Sports’ commercial venue customers in the region, which will be able to show LaLiga matches either through a Sky TV box or via a new streaming solution soon to be launched by Premier Sports.

The agreement reinstates Premier Sports as a LaLiga broadcast partner, having shared rights to the latter stages of the 2018/19 campaign with ITV and OTT operator Eleven Sports. The decision at the time came amid a restructuring of LaLiga’s broadcast output in the UK, after Eleven cut short an exclusive three-year agreement with the organising body.    

ITV’s agreement, announced on the eve of the current LaLiga season, was a short-term solution following the organising body's decision to withdraw a tender process after receiving ‘no satisfactory bids’ by its 25th July deadline. 

In agreeing a temporary partnership in the interim, the arrangement afforded LaLiga more time to seek a long-term deal, while former broadcaster partner Sky confirmed it would not be making a bid to regain the rights. 

The partnership with Premier Sports, which stated in August that it was in the running for LaLiga rights, ends LaLiga's nine-week search for a broadcast partner in the UK and Ireland, and makes it the world’s first soccer league to show all live matches in the region on a dedicated channel.

The deal also adds to Premier Sports’ portfolio of top-flight soccer rights, which already includes Italy’s Serie A, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Netherlands' Eredivisie.

“We are thrilled to be announcing this truly unique and game-changing agreement with LaLiga that signals the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Spanish football in the UK,” said Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports’ chief executive. 

“We are extremely proud to be partnering with LaLiga to begin broadcasting the world’s greatest league to UK and Ireland viewers on Premier Sports and via the soon to be launched LaLigaTV channel.”

As part of the arrangement, LaLigaTV, which also carries every live game from Spanish soccer’s top-flight, will be added to Premier Player from October, and then to Premier Sports’ Sky TV bundle from January 2020. It will be priced at UK£11.99 (US$14.80) a month, or UK£99 (US$122) per year.

Subscribers will also have the option to add LaLigaTV as a standalone service outside the Premier Sports bundle, priced at UK£5.99 (US$7.40) per month or UK£49 (US$60.40) per year.

“LaLiga is enjoyed across the globe, with an especially passionate fanbase in the UK and Ireland,” said LaLiga President Javier Tebas, who revealed to SportsPro at Soccerex Europe last week that a deal was imminent. 

“Through our long-term partnership with Premier Sports, we’re happy to give fans of Spanish football a chance to enjoy LaLiga’s world-class content in a variety of formats, including via OTT and Premier Sports’ linear TV offering, as well as our own dedicated English-language channel, LaLigaTV.

“We trust that football fans across both these territories will enjoy unprecedented access to the best league in the world.”

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