La Liga TV rights 'still up for grabs'

By Andrew Laughlin, Technology Reporter

UK broadcasting rights to show games for the 2009/10 season in Spain's La Liga are currently still up for grabs, Digital Spy has learned.
Sky Sports has historically owned the UK rights to show action from Spain's top division, but the broadcaster's previous deal with the league expired at the end of last season.

As discussed on Digital Spy's broadcasting forum, this means that La Liga rights for the coming season are currently available, with a number of parties thought to be in the running.

Action from the top Spanish league is now an increasingly attractive property for broadcasters due to the recent high spending by Real Madrid and Barcelona in the transfer market, which has seen superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović move to La Liga.

Alongside Sky Sports, ESPN is also expected to be interested in securing the rights for its recently launched ESPN sports channel. Along with the 46 Premier League and 30 Scottish Premier League games previously owned by Setanta, the Disney-owned firm has also secured rights to show games from the German Bundasliga and Serie A in Italy. At the start of the month, ESPN UK also carried games from Real Madrid's pre-season tour of the US and Canada.

On top of this, the Disney-owned sports broadcaster has recently secured a sub-licence agreement with Gol TV in the US to broadcast La Liga games for American viewers on its ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes channels.

While not commenting directly on the La Liga rights situation, an ESPN UK spokesman said: "As we continue to say, we are interested in rights where they are available and where they make business sense.
"But as we've not confirmed whether we have or have not bid, clearly we have no comment on this new speculation."

Even though Sky Sports has more Premier League games available for its subscribers than ESPN, it now lacks the European football coverage of its rival. This may mean that securing La Liga rights will become a greater priority for the broadcaster.