Gartner will serve as CEO of LaLiga North America, a joint venture of the league and the sports marketing group Relevent.
Gartner’s focus will be to find new media outlets for coverage of LaLiga games and to burnish the image of the sport and the league’s superstars. At present LaLiga has a U.S. rights deal with BeIn Sports that runs another two years. After that ends, the partners aim to strike a more lucrative deal with a larger sports platform.
“We need to grow our fan base and raise awareness about the brand,” Gartner told Variety. “The key here is to go beyond our super-fans that will follow soccer anywhere. The media industry is in this virtuous cycle for anyone with strong content and marketing operations.”
Gartner’s group aims to go beyond game coverage by producing other LaLiga-related programming. He noted there’s a big opportunity to produce niche content to promote players from various nations to subsets of the soccer audience in the U.S. “There’s a lot of great Colombian players in LaLiga — we can leverage that to appeal to Colombians,” he said, offering an example.
“We will have a very aggressive social (media) strategy,” Gartner added. “We will create content around the league that is entertainment and lifestyle (focused) to make it appealing to a broader audience.”
Gartner is a soccer buff who connected with LaLiga after hearing of the league’s plan to grow its international reach.
Gartner joined Univision’s news division in 2011. In 2014 he was named chief strategy officer of Univision’s Fusion Media Group. He rose to president of Fusion before exiting the company amid the broader shakeup at Univision.