Spanish football uses influencers to win back gamers on Amazon’s Twitch


The clash between Basque region clubs Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday evening is the first top-tier Spanish game to be shown live on Twitch, a platform that’s mostly used for watching people play video games. — Dreamstime/TNS

Spain’s main football league is handing match coverage to a popular influencer on Amazon.com Inc’s streaming app Twitch to attract younger audiences more interested in online gaming.

The clash between Basque region clubs Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday evening is the first top-tier Spanish game to be shown live on the platform that’s mostly used for watching people play video games. It will air for Spanish Twitch users on the channel of 26-year-old social media celebrity Ibai Llanos under a deal between LaLiga and broadcast rights owner Mediapro, as well as free to air on regular TV network GOL.

Llanos started out commenting on eSports tournaments from his home before branching into regular sports commentary. He’s drawn 5.6 million Twitch followers by bringing his humorous style to everything from toy car races to chess games and interviews with international sports stars.

As many as 550,000 users watched his New Year’s Eve show, drawing away a chunk of viewers from regular TV networks.

Llanos’s rise to hosting important football fixtures shows how sports leagues faced with ageing audiences are striving to stay relevant to young viewers and diversify beyond the pay-TV companies that funded the business for decades.

“We thought it was a great chance to bring our main product closer to an audience that consumes soccer content in a different way,” said LaLiga Digital Strategy Director Alfredo Bermejo. He said the league may take the idea to other markets if the Twitch trial is a success.

The experiment may also help entice Amazon into an upcoming auction of live rights to the Spanish league, adding more competition for incumbent rights holder Telefonica SA and underpinning match valuations. The e-commerce giant has shown some English Premier League matches on its Prime Video platform since 2019.

LaLiga already owns a Twitch account in which local influencers comment on matches in audio via a platform called LaLiga Casters. It also uses Twitch to broadcast its parallel EA Sports soccer game competition known as eLaLiga. – Bloomberg

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