LaLiga heads into the distance with gaming partner EA Sports
By Simon Ward
Spanish soccer’s top-tier LaLiga has today extended its long-running partnership with Electronic Arts, the video game developer behind the popular ‘FIFA’ title, in a 10-year deal.
The two parties have worked together for over two decades, with EA Sports serving as the exclusive official video games partner of the league, and its teams and players featuring in successive editions of FIFA, the latest being FIFA 20.
The growth in popularity of gaming and esports has made EA Sports one of LaLiga’s most important commercial partners, and the new deal is understood to come with a significant increase in value.
Ten-year sponsorship deals are unusual but this reflects EA Sports primacy in the sports simulations market and the desire of the two parties to develop new experiences together, increase global exposure for clubs and grow the eLaLiga Santander, the league’s official esports competition.
Recent innovations have included LaLiga using crowd recordings digitally adapted by EA Sports to provide added ‘Atmospheric Audio’ in television coverage of matches while spectators are excluded from stadiums as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Javier Tebas, the president of LaLiga, said today: “This renewal enables us to grow the reach and popularity of LaLiga to more and more fans around the world that play EA Sports FIFA every day. We have built a collaborative partnership with EA Sports for more than 20 years that has seen both organisations become leading international brands. Our new agreement signifies our commitment to maintain this growth and create the best entertainment for football fans worldwide.”
Cam Weber, executive vice-president and group general manager of EA Sports, said: “Our vision is to grow the love of sport through our games and services, and with strategic partnerships with iconic organisations like LaLiga, we're uniquely positioned to deliver unrivaled authenticity and innovation in the years to come. Our joint commitment will enable both immediate impacts for the next EA Sports FIFA experience, and long-term opportunities to continue to strengthen LaLiga fan engagement over the next decade.”
Under its renewal, EA Sports will retain inventory such as an association with the FIFA Ultimate Team of the Week (TOTW), Player of the Month (POTM) and Team of the Year (TOTY), celebrating the achievements of the best players in real life in LaLiga.
There will also be a continued involvement in the eLaLiga Santander, which launched in 2017-18 and now involves all clubs from the top tier and the second-tier Segunda División.
During the absence of live matches in the three-month break brought about by the pandemic, LaLiga devised initiatives such as the LaLiga Santander Challenge, a FIFA tournament contested by some of the league’s top players and involving Spanish video game influencer Ibai Lanos, which was streamed around the world on Twitch, the Amazon-owned live streaming portal.
The lack of live sport helped boost the audience for competitions such as this and the international EA Sports FIFA Stay and Play Cup, which was aired in more than 100 countries.
Global viewing hours for EA Sports FIFA content on Twitch in May 2020 was 260 per cent higher than for the same month in 2019.
On top of its prolonged relationship with LaLiga, EA Sports has deals with individual clubs including Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid and other top leagues such as England’s Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga.