When Facebook signed a three-year landmark deal with La Liga in 2018, it was received with huge hope and excitement. For ardent fans of Spain’s top flight soccer division in in the Indian subcontinent, who have grown up watching the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and others, this meant free live stream accessibility to games on a digital platform.
Though many fans experienced constant glitches and other technical issues with streaming last year, they were afforded an alternate option of watching matches on television with Sony Pictures Network airing over 100 matches.
But ever since SPN pulled out of their La Liga broadcast partnership with Facebook ahead of the 2019-‘20 season, the digital viewing experience has been a rather jerky one for Indian fans, who have been expressed dismay at the poor streaming quality on their 4G telecom networks.
However, La Liga India Managing Director Jose Antonio Cachaza says the league is satisfied about their digital audience viewership growth on Facebook despite the persistent complaints from fans about the streaming.
“The streaming issue is not because of the broadcasting problem with Facebook but a telecom supplier problem. [In India] it is not the best,” Cachaza told Scroll.in on Thursday as cricket star Rohit Sharma was unveiled as La Liga India brand ambassador.
Cachaza described La Liga’s tie up with Facebook as an experiment to diversify their reach in India but pointed out that their main target was making the Spanish league more accessible to Indian fans.
“No other football league in India can be seen for free. You got to have a Hotstar account or a Sony account which needs paid subscription. So that’s our number one focus [to make it accessible]. Every streaming [portal] has its ups and downs but we have been trying to look at the positives. The growth of digital audience in Indian sports is growing day by day,” he said.
In a bid to expand their reach, Facebook has been trying to stream live sports content on their platform since the last few years.
In 2018, they acquired exclusive rights for the live matches of the Uefa Champions League in Latin America. Also, earlier in September, the social media giants bagged exclusive digital content rights for International Cricket Council’s global events in the Indian subcontinent which will run till 2023.
Cachaza did not sound concerned about La Liga games not being aired on television, adding that their audience reach on Facebook had more than doubled since last year.
“I understand that Facebook is not your traditional broadcaster, but we are trying to be ahead of the times about how football is being watched. Everything points out that the future will be digital and we want to be ahead of that. So it means more accessibility to fans but for others we will have to force them to change their viewership habits” he said.