Soccer-La Liga and ESPN ink eight-year broadcast deal

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - La Liga and ESPN have reached an eight-year broadcasting rights deal that the sides said will bring the Spanish league's action to millions more fans across the increasingly soccer-hungry United States.

Beginning in August, live matches from across the league, which includes global giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, will be available on streaming service ESPN+ with select matches being aired across ESPN networks each season.

All games will be available to fans in both English and Spanish, the sides said.

"This agreement will bring the excitement, passion, iconic clubs and global superstars of La Liga to U.S. sports fans with unprecedented access and coverage," Burke Magnus, an executive vice president at ESPN, said in a release.

"As the sport of soccer continues its ascendance in the U.S. market, we are incredibly excited to work with La Liga to establish a deeper connection to American fans through our company's industry-leading streaming platforms, television networks, and digital and social media assets."

La Liga president Javier Tebas said the eight-season agreement will help bring "the world's best soccer league to American screens in a more comprehensive and modern way than ever before".

La Liga attracts some of the biggest names in world soccer, including Barcelona's Argentina forward Lionel Messi.

For the past 11 years, the Ballon D'Or award for the world's best footballer has gone to a La Liga player.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond)

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