Facebook to stream free La Liga football matches in Asian subcontinent | News | DW | 13.08.2018
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Facebook to stream free La Liga football matches in Asian subcontinent

Facebook has beaten Sony for rights to stream matches of Spain's top football league in the Asian subcontinent — for free. The deal marks the company's latest foray into online sports streaming.

Facebook will stream games from Spain's top football division La Liga in the Asian subcontinent for free, according to an exclusive deal announced on Tuesday.

Viewers in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will be able to watch every game over the next three seasons.

"We are really happy to be on a free-to-air service in such an important territory as the Indian subcontinent," Alfredo Bermejo, La Liga's head of digital strategy, told Reuters news agency 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."

Sony, which reportedly paid $32 million (€28 million) for rights between 2014 and 2018, gave up broadcasting rights after Facebook's pitch.

Read more: EU Parliament bans geoblocking, exempts Netflix and other streaming services

Growing trend

Several tech groups have secured rights for various sports, in a bid to keep young viewers on their platforms.

Earlier this year, Amazon acquired rights for 20 English Premier League matches a season from 2019 in Britain.

Facebook's foray into sports streaming began in 2017 when it started airing weekly Major League Baseball games in the US. Earlier this month it won the rights to show one La Liga and one Serie A game per week on its platform in the UK. But this latest deal is its first direct deal with a major football league, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook told Reuters it was interested in making further sports streaming acquisitions.

Last year, it reportedly bid $600 million for Indian cricket rights but was trumped by Century Fox Inc.

Read more: Is traditional sports journalism still relevant in the age of social media?

aw/cmk (Reuters)

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