New Delhi: Social media giant Facebook Inc. announced that it has acquired the media rights of Spanish football league La Liga matches in the Indian subcontinent. The popular league is one of most watched sporting events globally and also home of football clubs such as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The social media platform will live stream all the 380 matches kicking off the season this Friday free of cost in India which has 270 million Facebook users.

Facebook takes over from Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) which bagged the media rights of La Liga between 2014 and 2018 for reportedly $32 million. This deal assumes importance as it pits a digital platform like Facebook against big television networks which have so far dominated the broadcasting rights of major sports events. Earlier this year Amazon also won rights to show 20 English Premier League matches a season from 2019 in Britain.

“As home to the two most-followed sports clubs on Facebook and some of the world’s most iconic footballers, La Liga has a huge global presence on our platform. Its popularity is notably visible in the Indian subcontinent, so we’re delighted to be able to serve the community of fans there with free, live La Liga matches for the next three seasons," said Peter Hutton, head of global live sports programming at Facebook.

This is La Liga first broadcast agreement with a social media platform.

“We are thrilled to team up with Facebook to bring the millions of La Liga fans in the Indian subcontinent even closer to the action. La Liga sets the standard for football in the world and we are delighted that more people than ever before will have the opportunity to watch our matches live and for free through Facebook in the region," said La Liga president Javier Tebas.

Apart from India, the matches will be broadcasted on Facebook in seven more countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The matches, both live and on- demand basis, will be available on the official La Liga Facebook Page as well as individual club pages.

Last year, Facebook bid for the five-year global media rights of T20 cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL), along with firms like Sony Pictures Networks India and Bharti Airtel Ltd, which went to Star India Pvt Ltd for a hefty sum of Rs16,347.50 crore.

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