One of the last remaining soccer rights dominoes to fall was La Liga. The Spanish league has aired on beIN Sports in the US since 2012, and with beIN losing providers left and right over the last year plus, many expected La Liga to follow those carriers out the door to a new home, with TUDN (the rebranded Univision Deportes) ESPN+, and even NBC Universo all rumored as potential landing spots.
However, it turns out that La Liga may feel like a change isn’t in its best interests.
According to World Soccer Talk, La Liga has reportedly extended their rights deal with beIN Sports in the US through 2024. That’s a questionable move in my opinion, given that beIN is in fewer households (as of this past April) than pretty much every cable sports network in the country, including both ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes (not to mention all of the league and sport specific networks, and even FS2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS).
This represents a potential saving grace for beIN in the US. They’ve inked their marquee property for four more seasons, potentially giving them some help in their legal fight against Comcast. No one is going to care if beIN has Conference USA football or not – but La Liga is a huge feather in their cap that they can continue to build their brand around domestically.
As for La Liga, they’ll remain the crown jewel on beIN Sports, while they would have fallen further down the pecking order on TUDN (behind Liga MX) or NBC Universo (Premier League) and would have had to share the spotlight with a handful of other leagues (including the Bundesliga next year) on ESPN+.
It becomes a question of whether La Liga would have preferred to be a big fish in a small pond, or a big fish in a much larger pond in the US. They’ve chosen the former, for better or worse, and that decision could end up saving beIN Sports in the US for the next few years.