In 2021, Spain’s top football league launched LaLiga Tech to offer content protection services to other sports organizations. Today, the subsidiary protects nearly $10 billion in audiovisual content. Moreover, other big players like MotoGP and La Liga Portugal use LaLiga’s services extensively.
Recently, Liga Portugal partnered with LaLiga Tech to protect its brand against counterfeiting. As a result, each of the 36 football clubs in Liga Portugal 1 and Liga Portugal 2 have been able to deploy LaLiga Tech’s brand protection technology which uses machine learning to identify counterfeit products being sold online. This, however, is just one of the examples of how LaLiga Tech is revolutionizing the sports industry.
Although the basics are strong today, several sports have entered the digital realm to provide new opportunities for interaction with fans and players.
Here’s a look at the ecosystem of LaLiga Tech, the organization transforming sport and entertainment through bespoke products based on fan engagement, competition enhancement and competition management.
Tom Woods, head of communications and strategy at LaLiga Tech, said it was the first time a sports league had produced a large-scale technology offering at this level. LaLiga Tech exists as a separate entity. It is a sports technology provider that works with leagues around the world and aims to modernize the industry by bringing players to the same level.
“We need to have more than two or three very advanced clubs and leagues. The interesting thing about LaLiga Tech as a competition is that everyone is reaching a similar level to make the sport more entertaining which will help the industry grow,” added Woods.
Data should enable the company to make the best decisions based on customer insights, explained Milena Guerra, who has led customer intelligence for more than a year. His team performs audience segmentation, ad hoc analysis and customer profiling tasks. They are also responsible for the creation of key performance indicators as well as the optimization and development of different dashboards for the company to obtain information.
Guerra thinks getting the best data extractor is very important to get information to the business quickly. “At this point, for each type of data typology, we decided to build the logical domain, for example, from profiles and ticketing for different games. The typology of information has its domain, and we build the product there. This allows us to deliver high-quality, ready-to-use data for everyone in the organization,” she added.
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Privacy and compliance are very important. With third-party cookies looming in the future, Milena Guerra believes they will face a big data management challenge in the years to come. The team is therefore working on several pilots to prepare the way to monitor the data. “We have our DPO department which is in charge of informing and monitoring the organization’s compliance with all data protection legislation,” she said.
The technical preview
For development, the departments mainly use Python. They mainly work with Microsoft services such as Azure Data Bricks and Power BI for visualization.
“We basically do all the magic,” said Rafael Zambrano, chief data scientist at LaLiga Tech. “All predictions related to data, not only with football but also with fans. We create models to predict attrition or propensity and cheating models to detect cheating in matches.
Zambrano, who has been with the company for more than four years, said, “We have different timelines, different budgets. We have to make products for every customer, not just for LaLiga.”
Additionally, addressing the emerging technology around AR/VR, Tom Woods said: “There are certainly conversations going on. We know that virtual reality will play an important role in future fan experiences. For example, we built an augmented reality experience at a theme park here in Spain that allows fans to explore the LaLiga environment. I think the priorities are in other areas at the moment, but obviously we have a keen eye on new technologies.
What does LaLiga Tech gain from partnerships?
Woods shares that “For La Liga and La Liga Portugal, the agreement is based on sharing some of our technological tools and expertise to help them transform digitally. They are looking for ways to protect their brand against counterfeiting, such as counterfeit products. He also focuses on getting closer to his fans and establishing a direct relationship with them.
Each of the league’s 36 football clubs has deployed LaLiga Tech’s brand protection technology which uses machine learning to identify counterfeit products being sold online.
Recently, LaLiga partnered with Argentinian software giant Globant to offer web3 and metaverse experiences to its fans. Globant brings deep expertise in immersive technologies and has built some of the most successful gaming environments. So this is an area of growth for all leagues, and the partners will likely explore it in detail over the next few years.
Rafael Zambrano said: “There is a need for this industry to bring in more expertise from the appropriate tech world. Knowledge can be extended to other sports and businesses. In the United States they do these things, but in Europe, everywhere we go, they say that La Liga fascinates them, the things we do with technology. We can do a lot with what we have learned over all these years.
Tom Woods has been with the entity for half a decade and said: “If the sport is to grow and retain its relevance as an entertainment product, we need to work together and pool our resources. Ultimately, competition must evolve.