This article was produced in association with LaLiga
The global appeal of LaLiga as a product has ensured worldwide coverage and awareness of the Spanish football brand and its clubs.
However, with great opportunities there are also great challenges, and any major event or competition owner will be aware that attempting to protect a sports property from copyright violations across the globe represents an unenviable task.
LaLiga, though, has been keen to reach out to its global network of broadcast partners to gain as much knowledge as possible in order to step up the fight against audiovisual piracy.
Last year, the LaLiga Global Network was launched, with representatives of the league visiting dozens of broadcast partners worldwide with a view to learning more about the copyright and content consumption demands and challenges in specific markets.
For Juan Carlos Muñoz Vázquez, the head of programming and content at pay-television broadcaster Sky Mexico, LaLiga’s proactive and collaborative approach to addressing copyright violation issues is refreshing.
“LaLiga has been one of the most active and has put a lot of effort and resources into protecting coverage,” he said.
“From the beginning the league has shown an interest in sharing and listening in each of its territories whilst developing intelligence tools for cyberspace. They have visited us at least twice a year to exchange information and concerns in this regard.”
Major step forward
According to Vázquez, LaLiga took a major step forward in preventing copyright violations when it adopted a collective rights-sales process, starting with the 2016-17 campaign.
“Before the rights were centralised it was a very complicated situation with clubs having separate rights deals,” he added.
“There were separate simultaneous operations and the logistics for licensing the rights were more complex. However, with the Mediapro agency distributing the rights, there is now a central touch point.
“Through the restructuring, there is now a more active fight and greater coordination of activities and results.”
Sky Mexico carries out its own checks on media platforms and reports back incidents to LaLiga.
“There is a close cooperation,” Vázquez added. “We offer every round of fixtures, from Friday to Monday, so we monitor various platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, and then report back to a central address along with the other rights partners.
“We share all of the information we receive, even with rival media companies. After all, all of us are on the same page in our aim to protect content.
“We also have regularly meetings with our technical support team and discuss anything we have found and have great relationships with agencies over here, including the police.” Technological developments have also expanded the channels through which audiovisual piracy can take place.
“High-speed internet provides the gateway and the social platforms provide access to a lot of people,” Vázquez said. “People can access the coverage they need on their cell phone nowadays and there are new development platforms that will provide more sophisticated challenges in this area.”
According to Vázquez, content that appears on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube tends to be uploaded by individuals rather than larger entities that are trying to make money out of exploiting coverage illegally.
However, he added that it is important to highlight to the wider public the sinister support networks that prop up the providers, illustrating why genuine football fans should avoid watching their platforms.
“Many are supported by organised crime syndicates,” he said. “It is important to stop the growth of the monsters and we work in countries where we have relationships with law enforcement agencies.
“However, it is a complicated process in many territories and therefore it is crucial to offer better education and awareness to the public. They should be aware of the damage that they are doing by watching the illegal content. They are funding criminals and basically paying for guys to kill people or sell drugs in another country. In the long term, if consumers are put off from watching the content, then there is no need to provide it.”
To support these awareness initiatives, LaLiga provides materials for cross-promotion on Sky Mexico – including on-screen messages – and ex-players are also used to articulate the message.
“LaLiga is always totally open with us and ready to support our ideas for positive new campaigns,” Vázquez added.
“As a pay-TV platform, we carry a lot of exclusive content so we are concerned about protecting our investments in rights.
“We communicate with our partners on a daily basis, as well as third parties and other broadcasters, and having the support of LaLiga is very important.”
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