Christopher Harris of World Soccer Talk dropped a bombshell on Tuesday by reporting that ESPN is attempting to finalize a United States television rights deal to air La Liga matches beginning with the 2021-22 campaign that opens in August. Harris added the agreement would be for the next six seasons of the Spanish top-flight that includes club football giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
According to Harris, La Liga is signed with beIN Sports to air games in the U.S. through 2024, but that deal may have a loophole based on the fact that beIN is unavailable on multiple noteworthy providers such as Comcast Xfinity and DirecTV. ESPN could attract more viewers to La Liga by airing games on its main network, ESPN2, streaming service ESPN+ and also over-the-air ABC.
Harris' report comes just a handful of days after John Ourand of Sports Business Journal wrote that NBC Sports Network will shut down by the end of the year. NBC will shift Premier League matches to USA Network and its Peacock streaming service, but the English top-flight is only signed with NBC through the end of the 2021-22 season. It's expected, if not guaranteed, that ESPN will also make a run at securing the EPL TV rights.
ESPN already possesses Serie A, Bundesliga, FA Cup and English Football League Championship rights within its ESPN+ catalog, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for additional properties.