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LaLiga launches English-language documentary series in North America push

In an attempt to engage casual fans, LaLiga North America is launching an English-language documentary series to showcase the stories of LaLiga supporters across the United States.

The 12-episode United States of LaLiga is expected to begin in August, ahead of the 2019-20 season; the first completed episode features a Deportivo la Coruña supporter from Brooklyn. LaLiga’s regional base in New York is in talks with various streaming services to broadcast the series.

Last year LaLiga and Relevent Sports Group announced a 15-year, joint-venture partnership to promote the league in the United States and Canada. While much of the focus has centred on controversial plans to bring an official LaLiga match to the States – which are being revived – LaLiga North America is using content, in both Spanish and English, as a key part of its growth strategy.

This is a route LaLiga has already begun with Spanish-language Amazon Prime docu-series Six Dreams, made in collaboration with Mediapro and multi-sport OTT platform LaLigaSportsTV.

“We’re putting a lot of effort on the content side, between hardcore fans [the US Hispanic audience] who are following four or five matches a weekend and know what it exactly what is going on. For them, we’re looking to get the product in front of them: recaps, previews, all that kind of content,” LaLiga North America chief executive Boris Gartner told SportBusiness.

“This content we’re putting on our platforms and distributing it to anybody that can see it. We want to have a LaLiga piece of product where the audience is: this is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it.

“But moving away from that if we really want to grow, we need to go after non-hardcore fans in both Spanish and in English. As you start moving towards that, you need to start to get into more colour, more entertainment, more human stories in the new wave of sports documentaries.

“And for stuff like [United States of LaLiga] I don’t think it makes sense to put it on our platforms because you’re preaching to the choir there. What we want to do is to go completely outside of our soccer influence.”

Gartner is also working with production companies in Los Angeles for “more traditional types of TV shows”, while pilot programmes for English-language match-day analysis and preview shows are planned.

Specifically, LaLiga North America is looking to tell stories about all LaLiga teams – in both the Primera División and Segunda División – and not focus on Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are already global brands.

“It’s very easy to tell a [Lionel] Messi story that people can latch onto. But how do we uncover the stories for the other 18 teams [in the Primera División]?” Gartner adds. “There are enough of these smaller stories that are niche but when you add them up could be bigger than the one Messi story.”