Spain's La Liga soccer division has announced a major deal with Facebook that will allow viewers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent to watch all of its games during the next three seasons for free on the social network.
Other countries where viewers will be able to watch the 380 league matches include India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. The first game will be broadcast on August 17.
The deal is the latest move by Facebook, and the tech industry in general, to invest in sports broadcasting rights for emerging live stream services.
Facebook already shows Major League Baseball to audiences in the United States at a cost of $1 per game, with the free content supported by targeted advertising.
Peter Hutton, Facebook’s director of global live sports, said the La Liga streams would be free of advertising at first with Facebook considering the best way to bring in earnings in the future.
La Liga’s head of digital strategy, Alfredo Bermejo, said the soccer league’s goal for the last two years has been to "offer content to the widest audience possible."
He said that, with nearly 350 million Facebook users on the Indian subcontinent, including 270 million in India, partnering with the free social network platform "is key."
The deal ousts Sony Pictures Network as the rights holder for broadcasts of league games in the region. Sony reportedly had paid $32 million for the right to broadcast La Liga between 2014 and 2018.
Facebook and La Liga did not announce the price of their deal.