Football is big business around the world and in Europe, Spain’s LaLiga is without doubt one of the biggest players.
Less referenced by its full name – Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División – LaLiga is the top professional football league in the country and like its counterparts in England, Italy, and Germany, has a piracy problem to contend with.
Around 2014, LaLiga began using new tools to combat the unlicensed reproduction of matches and associated content on the Internet. In 2018 it reported that 268,000 unlicensed videos had been removed from social media with 9,000 associated accounts blocked. The company also claimed to have “disabled” 10,000 card sharing servers, which are systems designed to bypass access controls on consumer TV equipment in order to avoid paying a subscription.
In the same year, LaLiga revealed it would be teaming up with Pro League, Belgium’s top-tier football league. The latter would begin using the former’s anti-piracy resources with an option to extend the agreement beyond the 2019/2019 campaign.
According to an update provided by LaLiga Thursday, that has now been taken up.
“[R]enewing [the agreement] is a guarantee that the work carried out in collaboration with the Belgian league is bearing fruit,” says Melcior Soler, director of LaLiga’s audiovisual department.
“The increase in data is a reason to keep working to defend competitions’ audiovisual value. Fighting against piracy is a priority for LaLiga and the Pro League and together we’ll continue to invest in technical tools and human resources to keep developing in this field.”
According to LaLiga, its successes over the last year are numerous. Across platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Periscope and SportsTube, the company claims to have removed 23,652 videos and deleted 100 associated accounts.
It’s also been busy targeting the app-based market too. The league says that across Google Play and Apple’s App Store, 703 apps that had the ability to stream top-tier football were removed following takedown requests. Together, they had clocked up more than 10 million downloads.
Of course, LaLiga has been looking to hinder IPTV providers too but its strategy is a curious one. Instead of going after the sources, in the way that the Premier League has, they’ve instead targeted IPTV sales web portals by asking Google to delist them from search.
LaLiga says it has successfully removed 6,000 links in this manner but it’s up for debate whether this has had much of an effect on content availability, particularly when one considers that IPTV subscriptions are often sold through re-sellers and via word of mouth.
Concluding its summary, LaLiga notes that it’s also removed 5,700 links to live streaming sites from Google search, adding that following requests to advertisers to prevent their ads from appearing on ‘pirate’ sites, there has been cooperation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the league didn’t mention its 250,000 euro fine for using fans’ phones to spy on piracy and breaching the GDPR in the process.