Facebook Beats Sony to Spanish Soccer Rights in India

A Facebook sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference in Shanghai China

With over 270 million users in India alone and Football being the second most followed sport after cricket, it is understandable why the Mark Zuckerburg-led company is keen to broadcast, free, live La Liga football matches on its social platform. The games, which will feature teams including FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, will be shown live and for free.

La Liga will be available for free on Facebook in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, championship's India Country Manager Jose Cachaza revealed to IANS on Monday.

The Spanish football season kicks off this Friday and fans in India can tune in via the social network to watch all 380 matches. The online streaming service has won the rights to show every game from the first round of midweek fixtures in December and all 10 matches on 26 December as part of a three-year deal. La Liga has entered into a three-season deal with Facebook to bring soccer to eight countries in the Indian subcontinent.

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Facebook's monitoring system will prevent against leakage, ensuring only viewers inside the Indian sub-continent will be able to watch the games on its platform. The matches would be available on the official La Liga Facebook page as well as individual club pages, the statement added. Facebook itself launched the trend in May 2017, when it signed a streaming deal with Major League Baseball in the U.S. and Amazon in June 2018 announced it would screen certain English Premier League matches to its Prime customers in the United Kingdom at no extra cost. Sony reportedly paid a total of €32 million between 2014 and 2018, according to Financial Times. If Amazon has the Premier League, Facebook weren't going to wait far behind.

The deal comes as a growing number of football matches are being streamed live, reducing the dependence on satellite television for viewers.

"We have seen the growth of digital audience in India whether it is for FIFA World Cup or the Indian Premier League".

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