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La Liga’s Attempted Expansion into the United States Has a Critical Problem

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The league wants to play competitive matches, but most people can’t even watch it on TV!

COMDEX Computer Technology Trade Show Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

La Liga wants Barcelona and Real Madrid to start playing competitive matches in the USA, against the protestations of the players themselves. Yet this plan for expansion into the US market comes at a time where most people can’t even watch La Liga on TV in the United States.

BeIN Sports, the channel that owns the rights to broadcast Spanish league games in the US, has been locked in a battle of negotiations with cable providers.

Comcast’s XFINITY and Verizon Fios dropped them, and now, DIRECTV and AT&T’s U-Verse have dropped them too. BeIN wants to be shown among the basic levels of sports programming, the way NBC Sports is shown. That would mean consumers have to pay less money to get the channel. BeIN have also requested a higher fee from the providers for showing their programming, arguing such increases “are entirely reasonable and in line with the agreements it has already secured with other distributors within the marketplace.”

However, the various cable companies have disagreed with both requests, and because the disagreement has not been resolved, beIN simply isn’t being shown.

Estimates say that BeIN Sports and its Spanish station had been in about 22 million homes prior to this, but now it’s under 9 million. XFINITY is the most popular cable TV provider and DIRECTV is the most popular satellite provider. FIOS and U-verse also have a share of the market.

That’s all bad news for La Liga fans, not to mention Ligue 1, MotoGP, and fans of other competitions BeIN carries. They can change to one of the increasingly few providers that carries BeIN, write a complaint, or pay for a special subscription like those offered by Fubo TV or Sling. If you want to complain, here’s what BeIN recommends you do to get maximum impact.

Of course, the situation could change for the better in one way or another soon, but for the moment, the fact that only a small percentage of the country can even watch the games on TV is a much bigger obstacle than not playing competitive matches in the US.