Spain’s La Liga, the country’s leading association football league, is aiming to win more fans in India and boost viewing figures into the bargain.

All that stands in the way is England’s mighty Premier League, by far and away the most popular football league in India.

To level the playing field, La Liga’s head in India, Jose Cachaza, told Campaign India that a whole raft of new initiatives were planned, including airing all 380 La Liga games during the season on Facebook for South Asian fans. Plus, Facebook has an agreement with Sony Pictures Network to broadcast some 100 games on TV.

“For the last two years, digital has been in the centre of our strategy in India,” Cachaza said.

“I think we are an international league that’s working hard in the Indian digital market. We have 10 people working across Delhi and Madrid on digital work for the Indian market specifically,” he added.

Outside of the four regions traditionally most interested in football – Kerala, Goa, West Bengal and the North East – La Liga wants to focus on Indian fans in cities across the country.

To raise awareness, public viewings with La Liga stars such as Gaizka Mendieta, Fernando Morientes, Robert Pires and Luis Garcia started last year, and there’ll be more in 2019, Cachaza added.

Meanwhile, domestic football in India is starting to make its mark, attracting bigger audiences, and advertising to go with them. It has a massive fight on its hands, though, to distract the Indian sports fan from cricket, which dwarfs advertising in any other sport.

Even so, Star India, the official channel for the Indian Super League, said back in October last year it had already sold 50% of its ad inventory for the current season, the league’s fifth. And it had targeted Rs 2 billion ($27.3 million) in advertising revenue.

But there are deep concerns that, even as domestic football becomes more professional, clubs fight a constant battle to stay afloat and precious little of the increasing media cash is coming their way. What would really boost popularity is success for the national team, of course, but as the Indian Express reports, there is little sign of that in the near future.

Sourced from Campaign Asia, Indian Express; additional content by WARC staff