Hey Sports Tech Fans,
It has been a busy week in the streaming wars with the UEFA Champions League rights for 2021-2024 up for grabs.
Following on from CBS winning the rights in the US, we now know who will be broadcasting the competition in the UK, BT Sport.
There was a lot of speculation as to interest from Sky Sports, ITV (free to air) and DAZN (OTT) in the rights but none made it over the line.
The deal is reported to be for $1.5 billion which is the same value as the last time BT won the rights for 2018-2021.
The main piece I want to talk about this week is the on going battle between the Spanish FA and La Liga.
La Liga signed a 15 year deal with Relevent Sports to bring La Liga games to the US. Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins is one of the co-founders of Relevent Sports, so it should come as no surprise that La Liga and Relevent want the games to be held in Miami.
Last year the Girona v Barcelona game was scrapped as teams, players and the Spanish FA were vehemently opposed to games being held outside of Spain.
Plans continued this year to host Villareal v Atletico Madrid in Miami on December 6th, but those plans have also been scrapped as a court in Madrid this week rejected La Liga’s injunction against the Spanish FA for refusing to give authority for players to play in the game outside of Spain.
The entire future of this venture will rest on a court case taken by La Liga against the Spanish FA next February.
Real Madrid this week wrote letters to UEFA, FIFA and the Spanish FA to express their total opposition to the plans to host games in the US. Their reasoning is that the motives are not related to the sport and that moving some games to a neutral venue thousands of miles away unbalances the entire competition.
When the NFL or NBA move regular season games to a neutral venue in the UK or France, they are doing so safe in the knowledge that it wont cost a team the championship as it is not a playoff game that is moved.
This is completely different in La Liga. Every game has an equal weighting to your chances in winning the league, qualifying for Europe or avoiding relegation. Each game is worth 3 points and foregoing a home game puts the “home” team at a massive disadvantage. How many Villareal fans would have been in the Hard Rock Stadium this year?
I have argued here in the past that La Liga would be better served in growing their game in the US by doing deals with media companies and streaming companies that puts their games in more houses in the US. They extended their deal with BeIN sports, which is in a fraction of the homes that the Premier League is in. Fail!
So while La Liga is busy in moving a game a year to Miami and all the drama and legal proceedings that accompany that strategy, the Spanish FA have been busy concocting their own plans of expanding the game outside of Spain.
They have changed the format of the Spanish Super Cup, from the winner of La Liga v the winner of the Copa del Rey, usually held as the first game of the new season in August to a four team format held in January.
This sees the winners and runners up from La Liga and the winners and runners up of the Copa del Rey, playing a semi final and final in January and for the next three season in Saudi Arabia. It’s no surprise that the draw held this week makes the prospect of another El Classico final.
This has created a lot of controversy, for a lot of reasons.
Firstly, an association with Saudi Arabia is not well thought of by a lot of fans, given their human rights abuses, only this year allowing women to attend football games and by taking games outside of Spain, whilst fighting against the same thing for La Liga games.
It gets even more problematic when you consider that BeIN sports is suing Saudi Arabia for $1 billion over piracy of their content by Saudi Arabia.
TV broadcasters in Spain have said they will not be biding for rights due to human rights violations.
The whole thing is a bit of a mess.
It’s clear that both La Liga and the Spanish FA want to expand the reach of their game outside of Spain.
In an ideal world, for me at least, the two would work together and bring the new Spanish Super Cup to Miami. Three meaningful games with a trophy at the end and the chance of hosting an El Classico in one of the biggest sports markets in the world seems to tick the boxes of all involved.
In reality this is next to impossible given the contracts signed by both La Liga and the Spanish FA to bring games to two different countries.
This has a long way to run and the court case in February will be crucial in the future of Spanish game growing internationally.
Have a great sporting weekend,