Liga Endesa is the biggest and most popular basketball league in Spain. It is often called Liga ACB as well as Liga Endesa. Over this paper I will highlight over history, how competition is conducted, structure of the league, where the league is now and going in the future, and how much revenue is created through the league.
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When trying to learn about how a league is conducted, it is pivotal to learn about the history first. According to http://www.acb.com, the first basketball league in Spain was created in 1957 and was called Liga Nacional de Baloncesto. This league only included teams from Madrid and Barcelona. “The Spanish Basketball Association was recently founded and organized the league at the time.” In my opinion this is very interesting when looking at which teams dominated history and could be factor as to why they are dominating.
The first change to the league came in 1983. The league’s name was changed to ACB Primera Division. A couple of changes came to the rules and who runs the league. Now the “Spanish Basketball Clubs Association ran the league” as was stated beforehand by acb.com. Some changes to the rules came about as well. Wins were no longer two points, they were one. Also, you did not get one point for drawing anymore, there was overtime until a winner was found.
Lastly, the playoffs were added into the mix. In 1988, the league’s name was changed to Liga ABC. Lastly, the name of the league changed to Liga Endesa in 2011. This last change is not very important because the name changed in the name of who sponsors the league. Knowing who dominates or dominated a league in its past can tell you a lot about the league in general.
According to basketball-reference.com, while looking at the standings of the Liga Endesa, it is evident that Real Madrid dominate the league as of late. Barcelona won quite a lot as well in the past. So, historically the Liga ACB has been and is dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona. With that being said, there was only 7 different teams that have ever won a championship in the history of the league which dates back to 1957. In all, that would mean there is a low competitive balance which is also proven by a study by Raul Martinez-Santos which is linked in the reference section. When looking at championships, there could be many influences in winning. One influence to winning could be the scheduling and how the league works.
In Liga Endesa, scheduling is pretty simple. You play everyone twice. “Once game is at the home arena and one game is at the opposing teas arena”, according to acb.com. There are 18 teams. This means that the regular season contains 36 games. The regular season is proceeded by a post season or playoff. The top eight highest point bearing clubs make the playoffs. The one seed plays the eight seed and second seed plays the seventh and so on. In that regard, the NBA playoffs is similar to the Liga Endesa playoffs. It is different in the fact that the series in each playoff round is the best of five in the Liga Endesa, instead of the seven-game series in the NBA. The entry to the league is very important and can often dictate the type of league it will develop into and who dominates the league.
The flow of teams into and out of the Liga Endesa is important to know for the structure of the league as well. “The last 2 teams in Liga Endesa are relegated into the LEB Oro. The LEB Oro is a lower division in Spanish basketball. In the LEB Oro the top placed team in the regular season is promoted as well as a champion of a playoff with the second place to the ninth-place teams”, according to howlingpixel.com. It operates pretty similarly in that fashion to the English Premier League. This is how you gain entry to the league as long as you can provide the three requirements for the Liga Endesa.
There were clear problems with the entry of the league however. When diving deeper into the added requirements of the teams that could be promoted from LEB Oro to Liga Endesa it becomes ever so evident that there were heavy entry barriers. According to acb.com these three requirements were “having an area with a minimum capacity of 5,000 seats, an inbound of 3 million euros (each year), and a deposit of 1.7 million euros.” These requirements are too high for most of the LEB Oro teams to pay that were getting promoted. This would cause the club to have to decline the promotion. This is because the LEB Oro games are inferior goods and they struggle to create sales or revenue in most scenarios. The more this went on, the more the LEB Oro teams became aware it wasn’t just their team that couldn’t pay the fees. This became ever so evident when the club TZ Tizona could not pay the fees after winning the promotion two years in a row. This led them to suing the Spanish Basketball Clubs Association for “distorting the reality” according to TZ Tizona’s website. The requirements the year after were then lowered in 2017 according to acb.com to “an inbound of 2 million euros and the deposits of 1.6 million euros.” In 2019, a new deal is under negotiation for “a deposit of 1.6 million euros to be payed over 4 seasons and a minimum budget of 2 million euros.” Overall though, the league is actually doing well in Spain and is gaining quite a bit of popularity.
What might not be known in America is that Liga Endesa is actually quite popular in Spain and gathers attendance in the thousands. ACB Noticias Digital notes that in the 2000-2001 there was “5,154 attending each game on average.” Nowadays, there is an average of “6,426 people attending on average in 2017-2018. After 2002 there has always been at least 6,000 people attending each game on average.” This fact is actually quite important in interpreting on what the basketball means to the country throughout the years. When looking at the fact that the average attendance didn’t go down past 6,000 means a couple of things. First, it means that the demand for tickets to an Liga Endesa is inelastic. The demand did not significantly go down even during the financial crisis in 2008. It also means that the Liga Endesa does not have very many substitutes for high class basketball in Spain, if any at all. This can be proven because income has gone up and down during these periods, but attendance has not significantly gone up or down.
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The league itself is growing a lot because of the added revenues it is receiving. According to Eurohoops.net, “The Spanish ACB (Association of Basketball Clubs) announced that during today’s assembly the budget for the 2016-2017 season was approved with the league’s revenues getting increased to a record number of €30.1 million. The highest in the history of the Spanish championship. This undeniably impressive sum derives mainly from the television revenues coming from the new exclusive deal with Movistar for broadcasting rights of the games, along with certain sponsorship deals.” This clearly means the money in the league is increasing, it is even more profitable now more than ever and is growing to an even larger amount.
For revenue to be increasing at the rate it is, the public interest in the league must not be decreasing in any way shape or form. According to media.sportsbusiness.com, “Coverage of the 2018-19 season of the Liga ACB, the top division of basketball in Spain, will be available in 140 countries after the league distributed its rights in-house. The league has struck deals with: DAZN in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Fox Sports Africa in sub-Saharan Africa; Fox Sports Latin America across the Caribbean and Latin America; Sharjah TV across the Middle East and North Africa; Arena Sport in the Balkans (Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia); Nova Sports in Bulgaria; Cyta in Cyprus; Eleven Sports in Portugal and the US; Silknet in Georgia; Charlton in Israel; Best4Sport.tv in Latvia; Sport1 in Lithuania; Sportklub in Poland; TVR in Romania; and D-Smart in Turkey.”
This shows that interest has increased from just the country of Spain to many other countries. This is just one of the reasons why revenues have been increasing. You can visually see how the leagues revenues had been increasing over the last couple of years in the graph which was created by eurohoops.net. This graph is in the references section.
To add onto that, each team has their own individual sponsor on their jerseys. Just like the English Premier League. They also have their own individual jersey manufacturer which is also similar to the English Premier League. This is different from United States sports leagues like the NBA which pays the league to use their jerseys and not each team individually.
The Liga Endesa is the most popular basketball league in Spain. With growing revenues, it is a very profitable business in the year 2019. We looked over the history of the Liga Endesa, the way competition is gone about, how structure of the league is affected by entry barriers, where the company is going in the future and where it is now, and lastly how much revenue and interest is created by the Liga Endesa.
- Graph gathered from Eurohoops.net
- ACB Noticias Digital
- “Competencia elimina el canon de ingreso en una ACB “fosilizada”” (in Spanish). El Español. 24 April 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
- “Aprobadas condiciones económicas que dinamizarán los ascensos y descensos” (in Spanish). ACB.com. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
- “El CB Tizona denuncia las “desproporcionadas” condiciones exigidas por ACB en Madrid” (in Spanish). CB Tizona. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2018.