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La Liga’s expanded partnership with Microsoft set to transform digital experience

Spain’s La Liga competition has expanded its partnership with US technology giant Microsoft, in a move which is set to transform the digital experience for fans.

Under the details of the deal, Microsoft, who have partnered with La Liga since 2016, will work in cahoots with the league to update existing solutions and create new ones, with a focus on driving innovation in the sports sector.

For example, La Liga will offer new experiences such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D replays.

Microsoft’s Azure Event Hubs, Azure Data Lake, Azure Data Bricks and Azure Machine Learning service will also provide supporters with data-enhanced match coverage and streaming options, including features such as giving the viewer the choice of which camera angle they want to watch the game from.

Rights holders, commercial partners and broadcasters are also set to benefit from the partnership, with Dynamics 365, Power BI, SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB and more to enable an OTT streaming platform which will feature personalised recommendations and enhanced experiences, alongside relevant content, services and games.

Microsoft and La Liga will also work together in regards to streamlining stadium operations through various innovations in security, as well as leveraging 5G for unified in-stadium experiences.

The Spanish top-tier competition will use cloud computing service Microsoft Azure’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning software for its Mediacoach and LaLigaSportsTV services “to reinvent interactive audio-visual experiences and formats”.

LaLigaSports TV, an OTT streaming platform which features multiple sports, has had over 1.5 million registered users, with La Liga’s collection of official apps reaching more than 113 million downloads globally.

La Liga claims the collaboration with Microsoft will be crucial to the overall development of La Liga Tech, its B2B offering, with the league to bundle its range of technologies for a commercial result.

“The collaboration is key to the growth and development of La Liga Tech, through which La Liga will package its full range of existing technologies into a commercial offering for the sports industry, from match-day stats and analytics to the next generation of OTT streaming services, to the most advanced content protection services and venue access management systems,” a statement read from the Microsoft website.

“This will help the competition to expand into a new era in sports and beyond and enhance the fan experience by creating new data-driven technology solutions, powered by Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365, and provide customized technology platform, services and solutions to third parties.

“The offerings build on La Liga’s rich history of investing and focusing on the development of innovative technology aimed at enhancing the fan experience.”

Javier Tebas, current president of La Liga said of the new extended partnership: “We value Microsoft as our technology and innovation partner and appreciate how they collaborate deeply to build innovative solutions aimed at solving business challenges specific to our industry.“We are moving into a new era in which technology will become the centre of the fan experience and data insights will power the next stage of global growth.”

Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president of global sales, operations and marketing for Microsoft, added: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with La Liga as it makes further bold moves to deepen engagement with its hundreds of millions of fans, while bringing new business models to market with Microsoft cloud and AI capabilities.

“Microsoft is proud to help accelerate La Liga’s digital innovation and empower exciting new business opportunities in the sports and entertainment industries through La Liga’s technology portfolio.”

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.

Victorian Government grants available for grassroots sports clubs affected by restrictions

The Victorian Government is delivering further support towards grassroots sports clubs and members with new payments.

The Victorian Government is delivering further support towards grassroots sports clubs and members with new payments as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Grants of $2,000 are now available for clubs hit hard by restrictions as part of the Victorian lockdown due to COVID-19 cases in the state.

As part of the Sporting Club Grants Program, funding is obtainable for clubs that have incurred costs that cannot be recouped due to cancelled or postponed events, activities and competitions. The associated costs include cancellation fees for facilities, coaches and officials, as well as loss of perishable goods and booking fees.

Previous grant recipients include Central Victoria Swimming who received $2,000 towards recouping event costs for program printing and medals and trophies after their two-day carnival was cancelled.

Park Orchards Basketball Club received $2,000 towards hall hire and registration costs associated with the cancellation of their 3 x 3 Hustle tournament. Mount Prospect District Tennis Association received $2,000 for catering and court preparation costs after two of its events were cancelled.

The Sporting Club Grants Program forms part of the Government’s initiative to make sport more accessible and inclusive, stimulate local economies, build sustainable sport and recreation and volunteer opportunities, while increasing overall local participation.

It is recommended that grassroots clubs and organisations are to apply as soon as possible.

Since 2014, the Victorian Government has provided more than 8,100 sporting club grants totalling more than $12 million to clubs across the state.

The Victorian Government has also allocated more than $30 million to clubs, leagues, state associations and other organisations from the Community Sport Sector COVID-19 Short-Term Survival Package.

More details and how to apply can be accessed here.

Football Australia announce new home for Socceroos, Matildas and FFA Cup matches

Football Australia landmark deal

Football Australia have announced a landmark agreement with 10 ViacomCBS which will see Network 10 and its accompanying streaming platform Paramount+ become the new home of National Teams football and the FFA Cup.

In what is the largest Socceroos and Matildas broadcast agreement and the first ever direct commercial free-to-air broadcast deal for Football Australia’s National Teams, the deal will see all Westfield Matildas and Socceroos matches outside of the FIFA World Cup Finals – plus the next four seasons of the FFA Cup from the Round of 32 onwards – broadcast via Network 10 and Paramount+.

The agreement encompasses the media rights for all national teams (Socceroos, Westfield Matildas, Young Socceroos, Westfield Young Matildas, Joeys, and Westfield Junior Matildas) owned or controlled by Football Australia, as well as AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar, AFC Asian Cups, and other AFC tournaments until 31 December 2024. In an effort to enable the creation of this compelling package of rights, Football Australia acquired the rights to the AFC competitions from the AFC.

The deal, signed and completed today and commencing from August 1, will cement 10 ViacomCBS, who are also the current rights holders of the A-League and Westfield W-League, as the new home of football.

For the fans, this means that extensive coverage of Australia’s National Teams and the FFA Cup (in addition to the A- League and Westfield W-League) will be available on 10, 10 Bold and 10 Play, as well as Paramount+, which will be available in Australia from 11 August, for $8.99 per month.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson was delighted to have reached an agreement with ViacomCBS in what comes as a significant moment for the domestic game.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Network 10 and Paramount+ to the Australian football family. This is an enormous vote of confidence in the future direction of football in Australia including the bold 15-year vision and strategic agenda we have set for the game,” he said.

“It is also an endorsement of both the strength in the Westfield Matildas and the Socceroos brands and recognition of the exciting international schedule they face over the next 3.5 years.

“This is a wonderful result for our game and after a challenging 2020, provides our sport with greater financial certainty in the years ahead and will ensure that our fans will be able to continue to watch our Westfield Matildas and Socceroos wherever they are and at the same time, provide a platform to launch a re-invigorated FFA Cup.

“All sections of the community and business have felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this partnership announcement today, along with other commercial announcements recently with Priceline, rebel and Commonwealth Bank, are symbolic cornerstone moments for our sport.

“This is the first time Football Australia has been able to secure a direct broadcast deal of this nature with a commercial free-to-air partner, which provides the game with vital exposure on the primary channels of Network 10 and a variety of other platforms, including the soon to be launched Paramount+.

“No sport has the power to unite all Australians quite like football can. The Socceroos and Westfield Matildas have created many magical and iconic moments for our nation over the years and this partnership gives us the ability to connect two of Australia’s biggest sports brands with Australia’s favourite national knock out community tournament, the FFA Cup by showcasing this content to a greater audience and across multiple platforms. This exciting partnership also unifies the sport, by bringing all parts of Australian football together, including the A-League and Westfield W- League, on Network 10 and Paramount+, making it easier for the Australian football fan and beginning a new era for Australian football.

“We thank Network 10 and Paramount+ for backing the game in such a profound way and we look forward to a prosperous partnership where we can connect and engage with the biggest club participation base in Australia, and inspire them with our Westfield Matildas and Socceroos via a unique viewing experience. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the enormous contribution that Patrick Delany and Fox Sports have made to Australian football over the last 15-years. Fox Sport’s commitment, leadership and significant investment has helped evolve our game to where it is today, and for that we will always be grateful”.

Under this agreement, 10 ViacomCBS will be granted media rights to the following content:

  • Matildas Friendly Internationals (home and away)
  • Socceroos Friendly Internationals (home and away)
  • U23 Men’s Friendly Internationals (home)
  • Socceroos’ 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifier Round 2 matches (home)
  • Other Football Australia controlled Youth National Teams matches (home)
  • FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Asian Qualifiers – Round Three (including prospective Play-Off matches)
  • AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals
  • AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 Finals
  • AFC U23 Asian Cup Finals 2022, 2024
  • AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Final Round) for Paris Olympics 2024
  • AFC U20 Asian Cup Finals 2023
  • AFC U17 Asian Cup Finals 2023
  • AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Finals 2022 and 2024
  • AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup Finals 2022 and 2024
  • AFC Futsal Asian Cup Finals 2022, 2024
  • AFC Solidarity Cup 2024
  • A-League Club Play-Off matches to enter FFA Cup Round of 32
  • All FFA Cup matches played from Round of 32 onwards, including the Round of 16, Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals and the FFA Cup Final
  • All non-Australian matches across AFC competitions, including Round 3 FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches and AFC Asian Cup matches

AFF Suzuki Cup gains enhanced coverage alongside digital platform Goal

AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 has joined forces with Footballco, allowing their flagship digital platform Goal to become the Official Football Website Partner. 

AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 has joined forces with the world’s biggest football content and media business Footballco, allowing their flagship digital platform Goal to become the Official Football Website Partner of the tournament.

The exciting partnership will mark the first time that South East Asia’s top football tournament will collaborate with Goal to increase the Championship’s reach.

Goal will be given exclusive access to the tournament, involving behind-the-scenes access and rights to use archive videos, capturing and producing compelling content. The tournament is expected to reach 10 million website and app users throughout Southeast Asia, while a social reach extends to more than 50 million for fans in the region.

Andy Jackson, VP of Media for APAC, Footballco:

“We are delighted to partner with the AFF Suzuki Cup which will undoubtedly allow us to bring the 50 million South East Asian fans Goal reaches each month, much closer to the tournament that they care about the most. We have a number of new and exciting editorial initiatives in the pipeline leading into this year’s tournament that will build excitement and anticipation amongst fans by celebrating the rich history of the tournament, shining a light on the emerging stars as well as presenting Suzuki Cup sponsors with the opportunity to benefit from the unrivalled scale we offer in the region.”

Tilman Wendt, Executive Director, Digital & Brand Marketing – SEA, Sportfive:

“We know that football fans in ASEAN have been anxiously waiting for football to return after the pandemic. With the AFF Suzuki Cup centred around the thrilling regional football rivalries and the great passion of fans, the partnership with Goal is a great opportunity for us to not only amplify the tournament campaign #RivalriesNeverDie but also a chance to create unique stories to engage with Goal’s digital audience across South East Asia. By combining Goal’s and Sportfive’s capabilities, we are confident that we can maximise the content for the benefit of our fans.”

The AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 is scheduled to take place from December 5 2021 to January 1 2022, due to the tournament being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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