La Liga president: OTT streaming platform is key for the future

La Liga president Javier Tebas believes OTT streaming platforms and other technology-based long-term planning is vital to secure the future growth of the Spanish competition.

While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have forced the football industry into action, Tebas explained it should not come at the expense of exploring different revenue sources.

Speaking at the World Football Summit last week, Tebas outlined La Liga’s long-term plans which will centre on growth in the important digital sphere.

“We’re already working on a 10-year plan,” Tebas revealed.

“There’s already an understanding of what’s coming with regards to audio-visual rights, to technology and to over-the-top (OTT) platforms, which are here to stay. All of this means there’s a need to make plans for a long-term period of transition.”

“I think over these next 10 years, the most important thing for us will be the digital ecosystem,” he continued. “We’ve been working on our digital ecosystem for several years and have invested a lot of money in this, in the likes of OTT and anti-piracy.”

According to Tebas, these investments are needed because the value of audio-visual rights are unlikely to continue to grow at the same rate of the past decade. While the pandemic has contributed to this, the downturn in the market could even be seen before coronavirus affected all of our lives.

Factors like these are the reasons why the president feels it is necessary to turn to alternative revenue streams.

“There are other sources of revenue that we’ve been working on over the years that can be significant and that we think can help us complement the growth [in audio-visual rights income] that might not be two-digit growth,” he continued.

“There’s the digital sphere, there’s OTT and other types of products that you can offer to fans around the world.”

La Liga’s current OTT service, La Liga SportsTV, launched at the beginning of 2019, however primarily offers only lower profile sports in Spain.

As well as creating a platform for these sports, it has also given La Liga a wealth of information in regards to OTT streaming, which will be extremely useful in the years to come.

When asked whether the Spanish competition would ever consider introducing its own version of the NBA League Pass subscription model, Tebas stated: “Certainly. It’s a clever model for a competition’s growth. We’re already working on it and are in an advanced stage of a possible La Liga Pass.”

The president explained that such an offering would not compete with broadcasters, but rather complement existing partnerships.

“La Liga Pass is a product that would be adapted for each territory in the world and that can be offered in collaboration with the audio-visual broadcaster in each territory,” he said.

“It’s a product that could be directed at people who really like La Liga, the super fans, but are living in a territory where the broadcaster only shows a few matches and some highlights. You would be giving these fans more of what they want, which will help the broadcasters to have more value.”

At the centre of any digital growth, there will always be a need for good data capture and analysis, according to Tebas. “If you don’t have a good OTT and good artificial intelligence for all your data, then it won’t help your broadcasters much.”

While Tebas announced his long-term plans for the competition at the summit, in the short term, La Liga has adjusted its economic controls to ensure the game manages the setbacks of COVID-19.

“Reading the accounts from last season, many small and medium-sized clubs are still turning a profit in spite of the coronavirus situation,” he said.

“Next year, there will be profits too because of our economic control. La Liga, in collaboration with the clubs, decides ahead of time how much can be spent, based on income.”

“This had to be a transition year in the sense of signing players,” he concluded. “But these are the responsible measures to take if we are going to meet our collective long-term objectives.”

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Los Angeles FC teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness to host vision impaired fans

Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC is teaming up with the Foundation Fighting Blindness to host blind and low vision fans at LAFC matches at Banc of California Stadium this season.

Leveraging the team’s partnership with audio technology Mixhalo, fans will have access to crystal-clear, real-time play-by-play in English, featuring the call of ESPN LA’s Dave Denholm and the Spanish audio featuring Armando Aguayo on 980 AM La Mera Mera.

All fans at Banc of California can now use their phone, headphones and the free mobile Mixhalo app to listen to Mixhalo’s high-quality live audio for an immersive experience while watching at the stadium.

As the first-ever MLS team to adopt the technology, LAFC announced its collaboration with Mixhalo in December 2020. With fans now returning to Banc of California Stadium at full capacity, Mixhalo audio will be available to all fans at every LAFC home game throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.

“LAFC matches are for everyone,” LAFC Co-President and CBO Larry Freedman told lafc.com.

“We are constantly focusing on improving our fan experience and making our games more accessible to all. We are proud to welcome fans from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community this season to experience LAFC matches in person through Mixhalo’s incredible technology.”

Guests from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community will attend select LAFC home games and have the opportunity to meet with Denholm and Aguayo before the game.

“We are honoured to be partnering with LAFC in making the games more accessible for our blind and low vision community,” Jason Menzo said to lafc.com, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

“We look forward to the technology rolling out into other stadiums, not only in the United States, but globally.

Mixhalo Head of Sports Doug Holtzman added:

“Mixhalo elevates the live sports experience for everyone, and we’re thrilled that vision impaired LAFC fans can enjoy a better experience at matches this season.”

“With live calls from Dave Denholm directly in your ear – it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

FIFA and EA Sports end 30-year deal

As reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, gaming giant EA Sports and world football governing body FIFA have parted ways.

The partnership dated back to 1993, when FIFA International Soccer was launched for the SEGA Genesis.

Their current partnership was set to expire at the conclusion of the Qatar World Cup, with a new deal aiming to branch out into new areas – including NFTs.

It was reported that EA made a ‘significant offer’ for an eight-year exclusivity deal with FIFA for all of its Esports and gaming rights. However, the deal was knocked back, according to Reuters, as FIFA did not want the rights all with one company.

FIFA 23 will be the last game made in collaboration between the two organisations, set to release in late September this year, worldwide.

The FIFA series was estimated at the start of 2021 to have sold over 325 million units, according to ForbesFIFA 18 is the equal 40th highest selling video game of all time, estimated at 24 million units across all platforms.

FIFA confirmed it would still produce video games with third party developers, while EA will rebrand the FIFA series under the title EA Sports FC. The new series would include licensees such as the Premier League and LaLiga, which at this stage has authentic coverage, as all players are face scanned and the full broadcast packages akin to real life are featured in the game.

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