This is a guest feature from Jaime Cardenas, the CEO and founder of AC&M Group.
When I moved to the U.S. 19 years ago, one of the first things I did was evaluate all the cable and satellite companies and packages to make sure I could watch as many Mexican league games as possible. A lot has changed since then. Nowadays, all providers have packages that include every single Liga MX game. The new partnership between Facebook and Univision to live-stream Liga MX games in English in the U.S. will make Liga MX even more accessible and is a big deal for current and potential fans of Liga MX.
Both Univision and Facebook will benefit greatly from this partnership. Univision will be able to monetize the English language rights to their flagship property, similar to a deal they did with ESPN in 2013; however, I think this one is a much better fit. From Facebook’s perspective, this deal is aligned with recent buzz about Facebook adding licensed content and sports live-streams. Facebook recently announced that it plans to launch apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Samsung Smart TV, so fans will be able to watch Liga MX in English as over-the-top (OTT) streaming becomes more and more popular.
While Facebook and Univision will both benefit from this partnership, in my opinion, the biggest winner is Liga MX. As someone that has been following Mexican soccer for as long as I can remember, I always felt that Liga MX was greatly underappreciated in the U.S. Yes, it is the most-watched league in the country regardless of language, but that is thanks to the millions of Mexican immigrants like myself that are loyal to our Liga MX teams. If you ask the average American soccer fan, Liga MX would most likely not be among their favorite leagues, even though it is one of the top leagues in the world in terms of player salaries and attendance. I think the combination of an English-language broadcast and Facebook’s reach will expose the league to a brand-new audience – not only the 9 million Hispanics that Facebook has identified as English-Dominant, but also the millions of non-Hispanic soccer fans who may have not previously watched Liga MX because of the language barrier. They will be able to follow the Americans that play in Mexico and learn about some of the elements that make Liga MX unique and interesting along the way.
Before Chivas and America kick off the Facebook streaming Saturday night, here are some basic facts to get you ready for Liga MX:
- There are two tournaments in a year: Apertura (summer/fall) and Clausura (winter/spring)
- The top eight teams at the end of the regular season make the playoffs (Liguilla) and play two-legged fixtures with the winner on aggregate-score progressing to the next phase
- The league includes eighteen clubs
- One team is relegated every year (two tournaments) based upon their performance in the league over the previous three years.
- Four teams (“The Big 4”) account for over half of the league’s fan base: Chivas, America, Cruz Azul, and Pumas.
- The last ten tournaments have produced six different champions and only one of them is one of the big four (America).
Once fans are exposed to some of these elements that make Liga MX different form European leagues and MLS, I am confident that Liga MX will grow even bigger in popularity in America.