LaLiga revamps with new identity to capture India, global markets

NEW DELHI : A sports association which lauded itself for having two of the world’s biggest football stars pitted against each other— Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—for more than a decade, is now having to rebrand and sell itself harder in markets worldwide. One of those markets for the Spanish football league, LaLiga, is India where it has had three different broadcasters in less than seven years of its presence in India. In chasing new fans and exploring newer revenue streams, the football association’s managing director for India, Jose Antonio Cachaza, said they were surprised with what JioCinema managed with cricket (IPL) and they could benefit from that.

Since its decision to expand to India about seven years ago, the association shifted from broadcasting on the Sony Sports Network to independently broadcasting its matches on Facebook to finally moving to Viacom18’s MTV in 2021.

To be sure, LaLiga is still the second most popular European league in India, after the English Premier League and is ahead of German (Bundesliga) and Italian (Serie A) leagues in terms of viewership and followers. However, since moving to Viacom18, the league has stopped sharing viewership numbers. It was initially available on MTV in 2021 and Voot Select, the paid OTT service of the broadcaster. Now, it is available on Sports18 on linear TV as well as for free on JioCinema and for a paid subscription on Voot Select.

As part of its global strategy, LaLiga has looked at regaining economic control because a large number of Spanish clubs were near bankruptcy about 10-15 years ago. To improve this economy, it had to find money elsewhere like in moving the sale of broadcast rights directly and individually sold by clubs to central selling.

“The English Premier League was 20 years ahead of us and had sold its global rights at about 1.2 billion Euros a season. We, on the other hand, had sold for 500-600 million Euros. The only way we could catch up was to expand to markets like Dubai, China. India was in the second batch of the countries we chose to expand to,” he said.

In terms of volumes of the business, India is the right place to take risks because the broadcast market is just evolving. “Facebook got out of the live broadcasting business and we soon became the first big property Viacom18 signed, even before it had a sports channel,” he said.

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Updated: 05 Jun 2023, 04:20 AM IST

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