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Liga MX Elects Former Televisa Exec Amid Foreign Rights Shift

Liga MX owners chose a new president for the federation on Monday, and changes might be coming with him.

Juan Carlos Rodriguez—a former executive at Televisa and Univision, the Mexican broadcasting conglomerate—was elected by the owners to lead Mexico’s topflight soccer teams. Televisa also owns Liga MX heavyweight Club America.

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Rodriguez has more than 30 years of experience in the sports industry in Mexico and the US, starting his work for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. While at Televisa, Rodriguez consolidated Liga MX’s US broadcast rights for all 18 teams for the 2017-2018 season. Most recently he was responsible for the return of the NFL to Mexico. Those skills will be in demand in his new role as the league works to consolidate foreign media rights under one umbrella.

Unlike major US and European sports leagues, Liga MX, the most-watched soccer league in the United States, currently does not have a consolidated international media deal. Instead, teams ink individual commercial partnerships, which allows bigger clubs, such as Chivas and Club America, to sign lucrative broadcast deals in the US while leaving smaller clubs on the outside looking in.

Currently, 15 Liga MX teams (out of 18) have US broadcasting deals with TelevisaUnivision. That includes CF Monterrey and Xolos de Tijuana; Just last week, Televisa Univision announced that the two teams would join the agreement in linear television and streaming platforms.

In addition to the media deal, the US-based Spanish language media company also has exclusive rights to commercialize Liga MX in the US and globally. The company acts as the commercial sales agent for brands looking to collaborate with the league in retail activations. In Mexico, Grupo Televisa owns the domestic broadcast rights of ten teams, including Club America.

Meanwhile, Chivas, the league’s other heavyweight, has employed Telemundo for US rights since 2013. The Guadalajara-based team and the network have an exclusive agreement to broadcast all Chivas home games in Spanish and English across all Telemundo platforms, including Peacock, until the end of this season. The network is currently negotiating a rights extension, according to people familiar with the process who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The other two teams, Santos Laguna and FC Juarez, have broadcast agreements with ESPN and FOX Deportes through 2023.

Last year private equity firm Apollo Global Management was prepared to offer Liga MX an investment of around $1.25 billion in exchange for 20% of the league’s international media revenue over the next 50 years. Apollo would also own 20% of the new media company set up as part of the deal. However, Apollo’s proposal, labeled Project Goal, was contingent on Mexican clubs agreeing to sell their broadcast rights as a whole.

Mexican soccer draws the largest crowds on average of any soccer league in the Americas and the third-largest audience of any professional sports league in North America is behind the NFL and MLB. It’s also the most-watched soccer league in the US

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