Archive for the ‘La Liga’ Category

LaLiga extends US TV rights with beIN SPORTS through 2024, according to sources

EXCLUSIVE: beIN SPORTS has renewed US media TV rights to LaLiga through 2024, according to several sources who confirmed the details to World Soccer Talk.

It means that the home of LaLiga in the United States will continue to be on beIN SPORTS (in English) and beIN SPORTS en Español (in Spanish) through May 2024 for what is arguably the best soccer league in the world.

beIN SPORTS originally acquired the rights to LaLiga in 2012, and then renewed the rights in 2015 through 2020. With LaLiga in the final year of its current rights deal with beIN SPORTS that was scheduled to conclude in May 2020, it was expected that LaLiga would transition to a different TV distributor because of distribution concerns (beIN SPORTS is no longer available on the two biggest TV providers in the United States, DIRECTV and Xfinity).

When it comes to business, though, global partnerships are key. And considering that beIN SPORTS has the rights to LaLiga in 17 territories around the world, it makes sense for the two partners to continue their relationship for four years until the new agreement ends at the conclusion of the 2023/24 season.

Ultimately, once the new agreement wraps up in 2024, it’ll mean 13 consecutive years of LaLiga programming on beIN SPORTS to viewers in the United States.

World Soccer Talk reached out to LaLiga and beIN SPORTS for a response to the news, but neither organization was willing to comment at this time.

The timing of today’s revelation is fortunate. This week, beIN SPORTS hired Hope Solo as its latest soccer analyst. The former US goalkeeper will be co-hosting a new show on beIN SPORTS titled Weekend Winners alongside beIN SPORTS journalist Jeremy St. Louis. The weekly show will premiere on Monday, August 19 at 7PM ET on beIN SPORTS. In addition to her tenure on Weekend Winners, Hope Solo will help kick-off the network’s coverage of the 2019-2020 LaLiga season with appearances on multiple beIN SPORTS shows, including The Soccer XTRA and The Express this weekend.

SEE MORE: Schedule of LaLiga games on US TV and streaming

The 2019/20 season of LaLiga begins this Friday with Athletic against Barcelona on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español.

 

What does this mean for LaLiga and beIN SPORTS?

Analysis by Christopher Harris, Soccer media analyst

Prior to revealing the breaking news of LaLiga continuing its relationship with beIN SPORTS for another four years, the safe money bet would have been on LaLiga moving to a different broadcaster in the United States.

But out of all of the territories around the globe, the U.S. is one of the most complex and difficult to break into. With so much traditional American sports programming on television, it’s difficult for soccer leagues to find time slots on big American broadcast channels. On FOX Sports, the Bundesliga has to persevere with big games being featured on FS2 when NASCAR or other sports are contractually shown on FS1. Serie A has one game a week on television (typically on ESPN2 or ESPNEWS) while the remainder of games are on ESPN+. NBC Sports broadcasts more club soccer than most of its competitors but they don’t have many time slots available if they decided to add another league to its portfolio.

That leaves LaLiga with beIN SPORTS, a sports TV network that will guarantee the Spanish league will be the flagship property on both its English-language and Spanish-language channels. On beIN SPORTS, there aren’t college football, NASCAR, golf or college basketball games getting in the way of LaLiga matches.

Plus, remember that beIN SPORTS is a key global partner for LaLiga. beIN SPORTS has had a bad rap in the United States mainly due to distribution issues. But globally, beIN SPORTS is a big player in world sports particularly the Spanish top-flight league. It’s very likely that the U.S. was one important element in a massive media rights deal that would have included many territories globally. And if you’ve been watching beIN SPORTS lately, you will have been reminded several times that beIN SPORTS is now positioning itself as “the biggest sports network in the world.”

Having said that, beIN SPORTS certainly needs to find a way to get back on DIRECTV. AT&T drives a hard bargain, but with the Spanish league committing to beIN SPORTS for the next four years, DIRECTV will have to seriously consider bringing beIN SPORTS back to its programming in order to be competitive with other TV options available to consumers. Comcast Xfinity is another story.

At the end of the day, what will be interesting to watch is whether LaLiga can find a way to sublicense a limited number of games to other broadcasters in the United States this season. beIN SPORTS will be the home of LaLiga, but it could be in the TV network’s best interests to allow LaLiga to broadcast roughly two games per week on ESPN, FOX or another broadcast network. This will increase awareness of beIN SPORTS’ complete coverage of the league. And, at the same time, will help grow the popularity of LaLiga in this country.

For more insight and analysis about the soccer media industry, listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast every Thursday, which is available via this web site and Spotify, Pandora mobile app, Stitcher, Google Play, iTunes, TuneIn, Overcast, Soundcloud, Spreaker, YouTube and Audioboom.

Traveling through Bali in search of soccer

bali

Editor’s note: World Soccer Talk writer Oliver Huddlestone is currently traveling throughout Asia and is sharing travelogues with us from the countries he visits. So far, he’s shared his observations regarding trying to watch or play soccer from Hong Kong and Malaysia. Today’s post is on Bali.

Bali quickly found its way into my heart as my favorite place in Asia for three main reasons. First, the water. Whether seeing dolphins at Lovina beach in the north, the marine life around the Gili Islands or the waves of Kuta, being in the water was always exhilarating.

Second was the chance to escape real life in the rain forest town of Ubud, where all day long you relax in tranquillity and soak in the jungle wildlife surrounding you.

Last and most important of all was the accessibility to soccer, and all sport for that matter, in the lively areas of Kuta and Seminyak.

Kuta is many people’s worst nightmare but every lad’s dream with cheap booze, music blaring all night long and a long stretch of bars and clubs showing nearly every sporting event imaginable.

It was the last point that impressed me the most. No matter what time the match was on, I was able to find every game I wanted to watch, which mostly involved the big guns.

Contrary to reports I read before coming out, I felt safe thanks to the locals of the area. I had read on TripAdvisor that Bali and Kuta were dangerous, and that western tourists had to be careful. In my experience however, the Balinese were very accommodating, helpful and some of the nicest people I have met.

Kuta was quite strange to me as an English soccer fan because it catered more to Australians. The bars showed Aussie Rules matches. There were many ‘Oz style’ BBQs and shops that sold Australian rugby (both union and league) jerseys.

Throughout the USA, Europe and most of Asia, I was used to sports stores selling Manchester United and Chelsea jerseys or Lakers and Bulls jerseys, so it was strange seeing all these different teams I had never seen before.

However, in the back of the stores were European soccer and NBA jerseys. Not long ago, you would struggle to find a jersey that wasn’t United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Juventus (at a push).

Alongside these so-called ‘top teams’ were Borussia Dortmund, Southampton, Napoli, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Who would have wanted a Manchester City top five years ago when Thaksin Shinawatra was chairman and they were getting beat 8-1 at Middlesbrough?

The variety of jerseys struck me and made me realize how there’s much more fierce competition in the top leagues thanks to the emergence of clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and PSG.

During my Balinese adventure, I took the fast boat to the party island of Gili Trawangan to snorkel, lay on the white beaches and see what all the fuss was about.

Unlike most other beaches, where you spot a volleyball game or people playing frisbee, there were no signs of any ball games as the sand was a thin strip and if you stepped in the sea you’d land on hard, rocky coral.

The one exception was my last night where I joined in with two teenage locals doing keepy-ups on the beach whilst their family set up their beach shacks for the fire show. These were no ordinary keepy-ups, however. They used a small ball made of wood and had an unusual technique to keep the ball in the air, only using the inside of their feet.

One of the first things I was taught in soccer was to pass and control with the inside of the foot. I was never taught to juggle with it.

One thing I can definitely say is that the Balinese love soccer. I even met one guy who supported both Bayern Munich and Arsenal, and another who had a jersey that was half the sky blue of Manchester City and the other half the devil red of United. I couldn’t imagine seeing that in the middle of Manchester.

From what I saw, the locals were enthused by soccer as a whole, not by one particular club. They enjoyed watching and playing the sport, which is dramatically different than the relationship with the game in the UK. The Balinese do not have the same connection with the club than someone supporting their hometown team in England, which means the Balinese can enjoy watching a good goal no matter who scored it.

Bali is memorable for the beaches, rice fields, temples and people. It’s also the locale where I saw Wayne Rooney on TV surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as England’s all-time leading scorer, watched Middlesbrough grasp a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest, and where I watched the Rugby World Cup.

Next up is Australia!

 

Where have all the personalities in English football gone?

brian-clough-bill-shankly

One of the most enjoyable things about listening to former players and managers talk is the stories about characters they’ve worked with in years gone by.

The quirks of iconic coaches such as Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson, and perhaps how players like Paul Gascoigne, George Best, Roy Keane, Vinnie Jones et al were around the dressing room.

But in 20 years time, when this current Premier League generation have hung up their boots and embark on their own after dinner speaking circuit, who will they have to talk about? Figures who encapsulate supporters, who are unique and innovative in their craft, and extend beyond the silverware they’ve sampled in their distinguished careers? Perhaps not so much.

Personalities are certainly scarce in the modern British game. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had an aura when he arrived at the Blues when he first took the job on in 2004, but the rigors of managing on a knife-edge have moulded his current persona into one which is a little more withdrawn and a lot more bitter.

Even Jurgen Klopp, just over a month into his tenure as Liverpool boss, seems to have been inhibited by the pressures of the English game. The German, while always beaming, is much more cautious in his dialogue since taking over at Anfield and has already commented on the unrelenting media coverage.

The result of such scrutiny and subsequent hyperbole has made managers and players alike form mechanistic personas.

Although managers have their weekly press conferences ahead of Premier League matches, and they are extensively covered by various outlets, often journalists could write up the report accurately before the briefing has even begun. Recap of the previous match, kind words for the opposition and an injury update is typically how they go.

The same goes for players. Pre-match, post-match, the same lines are dragged out. “It’s important for the team, the opposition deserve respect, we need to be at our best, we’re taking it one game at a time.” Monotonous, indeed (mostly due to the media training that professional footballers get).

It’s certainly something the game has brought upon itself, though, as every word out of step with the party line is now latched upon, bandied around social media and sensationalised all over the globe.

Wayne Rooney, who played in Everton colors during pre-season despite still being a Manchester United player, was clearly wary of this fact in his post-match interview following Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial. Not wanting to say anything to offend his former or current employers, the result was an awkward couple of minutes in front of the camera which naturally became a social media hit.

Even Mourinho’s recent, infamous seven-minute rant failed to get many pulses racing. The manner in which the Portuguese spoke reeked of a rehearsed retort, something he most likely concocted as his side floundered out on the field. Innovators and encapsulators are a dying breed, it’d seem.

The implications for saying something which doesn’t fall in line with the Football Association’s stringent set of rules is another factor. Criticize a referee and you can be sure a fine or warning will follow. Criticize the opposition and it’ll be on the back pages all week. Managers, who have enough on their plate as it is, would rather suck it up, adhere to cliches and do without the furore.

Some have even suggested doing away with immediate post-match interviews entirely for managers, with the inevitable result a plain back-and-forth or a fine for a beleaguered boss. But it’s the only time, with emotions running high, supporters occasionally get a glimpse into the human side of their heroes, instead of a pre-programmed exterior.

For the average fan, post-match interviews and press conferences are no longer anticipated with a degree of intrigue as they would have been with some of the aforementioned men, wondering what a gravitating character may say next. They’re an afterthought, a blemish on coverage, even.

Do viewers stay glued to the television after the match waiting to hear from the manager? Watching highlight shows recorded from the night before, does anyone not fast forward through the post-match dialogue with managers and players to get onto the next game? A manager’s take used to feel as though it was entwined in the matchday experience. Now it’s very much a separate entity.

It’s a shame, because the personalities must be there. Granted, players and even managers do have things a lot easier than generations earlier. But to make it to the elite level, those involved in the game require unshakeable self-confidence, ingenuity of thought and a fair degree of ego, as well as outrageous talent.

Those traits should make for managers and players that have plenty to share with the soccer stratosphere. Behind closed doors, they may well do, but as the game motors forward, those who roam on the pitch and prowl on the sidelines at the very summit of the sport seem increasingly robotic.

More than 1.8 million soccer fans in US watched El Clasico across beIN SPORTS networks

el-clasico

Saturday’s El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona delivered an average of 1.8 total viewers across beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español, according to Nielsen. A total of 1,106,137 watched the game on beIN SPORTS en Español, while 768,445 watched the game on the English-language beIN SPORTS network.

“We are proud to be the go-to sports network for La Liga coverage in the United States, including what many consider the biggest rivalry in all of sports,” said Antonio Briceño, Deputy Managing Director of beIN SPORTS. “We are thrilled with the continuing growth in viewership for “El Clásico,” but even more so that beIN SPORTS’ programming and coverage is meeting the needs of such passionate sports fans.”

The 1,874,582 total number is less than the 2.12 million viewers that beIN SPORTS had in March for El Clasico. However, for last week’s El Clasico, there was less of a build-up to the game because it followed an international break.

The Spanish rivals faced-off at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid on November 21st, where league leaders and defending La Liga champions, FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid in a 4-0 blowout. The match marked superstar player, Lionel Messi’s, return to the field, although goals were scored by teammates Neymar Jr., Andres Iniesta and two by Luis Suarez. The last goal by the Uruguayan striker, approximately in minute 74 of the match, marked the highest viewership peak of the broadcast reaching 2,226,070 total viewers across both networks. The teams are set to meet again on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona.

As part of beIN SPORTS’ coverage, the network sent Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen to broadcast the game live from Madrid, Spain. Meamwhile, in Miami, the studio set featured Patrick Kluivert, Christian Vieri, Gary Bailey and other stars.

According to an interview with World Soccer Talk, beIN SPORTS is considering sending Hudson to Italy this season to commentate Serie A games live from the stadium.