Akshit Pushkarna
Gaming and e-Sports

How LaLiga is planning to score with Indian football fans

Jose Antonio Cachaza, managing director, LaLiga India, explains how partnering with e-sports company Galaxy Racer and EA sponsorship can help them enhance their following in the country from social media.

La Liga, Spain's premier football league, is one of the major attractions in the sports world. La Liga matches are shown live in about 180 countries. Javier Tebas, president, La Liga, estimates that the league attracted a global audience of 2.5 billion during the 2021-22 season.

In India, La Liga established an office in 2016 to help build a strong following in the country. In an interaction with afaqs!, Jose Antonio Cachaza, managing director, La Liga India, says that after COVID put a stop to its expansion plans for two years, the league is now back on track.

"It is been a year of consolidation for us on many issues that we faced over the past two years. That, along with building deep-seated relationships with our partners in the country, is our key focus, moving forward."

La Liga entered into a strategic partnership with Viacom18 in July 2021. The company currently owns the broadcasting rights for the league in India. Under this contract, the league provides the broadcaster with 38 weeks of live Tv, with about 380 matches in total, Cachaza said.

"Viacom18 is shaping its own sports broadcasting structure. When we entered into a partnership with Viacom18, we understood that we were signing with the future leader in sports broadcasting in India. We were the first major sports asset that Viacom18 entered into a partnership with. We are convinced that we are in the right place."

However, La Liga's responsibility doesn't just end with broadcasting. It is also looking to establish a wider footprint among Indian football community. To achieve this, it is heavily investing in building a digital community. Recently, La Liga entered into a partnership with e-sports organisation Galaxy Racer.

"It's a relationship that goes way beyond e-sports or gaming. At the heart of this agreement is the management of broadcast rights, which is our primary source of revenue," Cachaza adds.

La Liga already has several projects, including a documentary series, competitions, merchandise, live events and activations, in the pipeline with Galaxy Racer.

"Today, sports is consumed in a radically different way. Fans demand constant input to stay connected to football. The interaction with football doesn't stop when the whistle blows and the match comes to an end. Fans like listening to podcasts, opinions, etc. Here, our partnership with Galaxy Racer will be imperative," Cachaza says.

How LaLiga is planning to score with Indian football fans

He also shares that La Liga has also signed a sponsorship deal with game developing company Electronic Arts (EA). "From 2023, La Liga will no longer be called La Liga Santander. Our naming rights will be with EA, and it will also be our main naming sponsor."

"We have seen evidence that many kids in India end up following football as a result of playing the FIFA game."

La Liga is looking for a stronger digital interaction with the Indian audience, because that's where it think it holds an edge over its competitors. Its offices in India can help shape campaigns to reach out to the community. Cachaza says that the league has recruited a local agency to create content and help it understand the digital market.

However, since India isn't exactly known for having influential footballers, the league has had to look at unconventional marketing ways in the country. All its digital marketing initiatives have a common theme: to grab the eyeballs of potential fans.

La Liga's brand ambassador in India is Rohit Sharma, captain of the Indian men’s cricket team. As per Cachaza, Sharma brings his huge fan following to the table. Many of his fans can potentially develop a liking to football as well. Sharma is a huge fan of Spanish football, Cachaza says, and the league is planning to put out more content with him.

"We are also collaborating with influencers. From micro-influencers to Bollywood, we have established multiple relationships till now. Interaction with these influencers is an important way of marketing in the India. For example, actor Ranbir Kapoor is a huge FC Barcelona fan. Kapoor and his actress wife, Alia Bhatt, announced their newborn daughter's name on the back of an FC Barca jersey. This brings the Indian audience a step closer to the club and, hence, Spanish football."

How LaLiga is planning to score with Indian football fans

La Liga is also banking on its legendary footballers to attract Indian fans, by bringing them to the country.

"We have more legends than any other international league. Post-COVID, we brought Luis Garcia to Delhi, Patrick Kluivert to Mumbai, among others. We take a 360-degree approach with these visits that are accessible to media/broadcasters. The fans also have a meet and greet session with them," Cacheza shares.

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