ESPN, the US sports broadcaster, will continue its exclusive domestic coverage of Spanish soccer’s Copa del Rey and Super Cup competitions after renewing its rights deal with the RFEF, the Spanish soccer federation, for another five years.
The extension will see ESPN continue to broadcast 65 Copa del Rey matches per season exclusively on its streaming platform ESPN+ in English and Spanish until 2026-27.
Spanish Super Cup matches, meanwhile, will be shown on the broadcaster’s linear channels ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes, as well as ESPN+.
ESPN first acquired exclusive rights in the US to the Copa del Rey in 2020 after previous rights holder BeIN Sports, the international pay-television broadcaster, chose not to renew its deal with the RFEF.
The network also replaced BeIN Sports as the holder of North American rights to Spain’s top-tier LaLiga last year when it clinched an eight-year deal worth $1.4 billion ($175 million per year) running from 2021-22 to 2028-29.
Under that deal, ESPN airs all 380 matches per season across its channels in English and Spanish, a majority on streaming platform ESPN+ in the US. It also includes selected games from the second-tier Segunda Division and promotion playoffs.
Sonia Gomez, ESPN senior director for programming and acquisitions, said: “Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup, together with LaLiga, are the three jewels of Spanish soccer.
“Having these three premier properties cements ESPN+ as the home for Spanish soccer in the US and reinforces our position as the country’s leading media destination for soccer fans.”
The RFEF launched its international media rights tender process for the next cycle of the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup competitions in June, covering 43 geographical areas, including the US.
It initially launched the tender for three years, starting with the 2022-23 campaign and running through 2024-25, but said it was open to five-year offers until 2026-27.
As part of the rights package for the Copa del Rey – of which Real Betis are the current champions – broadcasters have the option of providing highlights for games they do not cover live. The Super Cup rights cover all formats, including mobile, digital, cable, and satellite platforms. Real Madrid are the current holders of that competition.
The tender process for the next cycle of rights to the Copa del Rey in Spain has faced complications so far.
The tender, originally issued in April seeking a minimum of €22 million ($24 million) per year for a contract of up to four seasons, had to be reissued in June with lower demands after the reserve price was not met.
Last month (July), the RFEF modified the tender further, limiting the contract length to three years after CNMC, the Spanish competition regulator, recommended the organization eliminate the option of offering deals for four or five seasons.
The Copa del Rey rights are now only available from the 2022-23 season until 2024-25.
As well as reducing the number of seasons on offer, the RFEF has split up the rights into different lots to attract several broadcasters and give the competition exposure on free-to-air and/or pay-TV channels.
Copa del Rey rights were previously held in Spain by commercial broadcaster Mediaset Espana under a three-year deal that expired at the end of last season worth just under €14 million annually.
After securing the main package of rights in 2019, Mediaset opted to sublicense them to DAZN, the subscription streaming platform.
The RFEF raised around €80 million from domestic and international sales in the previous cycle.