Liga announces landmark free-to-air deal with Facebook in India
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain’s top flight soccer division La Liga announced on Tuesday a landmark deal with Facebook which will allow viewers in the Indian sub-continent to watch every game over the next three seasons for free on the social network. A statement from La Liga said all 380 league matches for the new season, which begins on Friday, would be available to viewers in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. “We are really happy to be on a free to air service in such an important territory as the Indian sub-continent,” Alfredo Bermejo, La Liga’s head of digital strategy, told Reuters ahead of the announcement. “One of our goals for the last two years has been to offer content to the widest audience possible, so partnering with free platforms like Facebook, which has 270 million users in India, is key to us.” Facebook and La Liga declined to give financial details of the deal which sees the social network giant unseat Sony Pictures Network as the rights holder in the region. Sony paid a reported $32 million for the right to broadcast La Liga between 2014 and 2018. Facebook began venturing into sports streaming in 2017 by broadcasting weekly Major League Baseball games and earlier this month agreed a deal with broadcaster Eleven Sports to show one La Liga and one Serie A game per week on its platform. The deal with La Liga is the latest statement of the growing interest of tech groups in showing sports in order to keep young viewers on their platforms. Earlier this year Amazon won rights to show 20 English Premier League matches a season from 2019 in Britain. Peter Hutton, Facebook’s Director of Global Live Sports, however, described the deal with La Liga as an experiment, saying that while the company has other agreements in the works, he ruled out an immediate land grab of rights deals in sport. “Were looking at a few other deals that are quite close to completion but this is not about going out and buying a huge amount of content worldwide,” he told Reuters.