La Liga’s business intelligence and analytics department has played a vital role in helping top-flight football in Spain remain at the forefront of the sport in Europe.
President Javier Tebas made technological innovations a key component of his strategic plan for La Liga when he was first appointed back in 2013.
The league has invested massive resources into technology, with a team of 70 professionals formulating ideas that have significantly changed how La Liga operates.
Led by Jose Carlos Franco, LaLiga’s Managing Director of Technology and Data, the department has more than 20 projects that have been officially certified as research and development.
This work has been officially recognised by the Certification Agency for Spanish Innovation (ACIE) and the European Quality Assurance (EQA) organisation.
“We use the same methodologies that a major tech company might use,” Franco told the official La Liga website. “We’ve brought their way of working into our industry.”
One of the most successful innovations was the launch of La Liga’s own over-the-top (OTT) media service – LaLigaSportsTV.
Launched in 2018, the platform currently provides coverage of 30 different Spanish sports, many of which have previously been neglected by traditional broadcast outlets.
It offers users a personalised and interactive experience and provides La Liga with anonymised data it can use to refine future content offerings.
“With our OTT platform, we’re well positioned to better understand our users and how they consume sport, information which we can later use to grow our audience,” added Franco.
“This data can also be merged with data from La Liga’s other digital platforms to create a fuller picture. The joint analysis of our data sources can give us a 360-degree view of our fans.”
Another area where La Liga has raced ahead of other competitions in recent times is in the ongoing battle against piracy and match fixing.
Created five years ago, the Technological Protection of Content Department now employs a team of more than 20 experts who tackle the issue of piracy.
They have developed tools to detect and investigate the sharing of illegal content, to gather information that can be used to prosecute the individuals who run the websites.
The anti-piracy software has proved to be so successful that Belgium’s Pro League is amongst a plethora of other competitions who have sought to acquire it.
“People are now starting to take note and to warn each other against uploading videos, because they know they’ll be taken down and could lead to an account being suspended,” said Emilio Fernández, La Liga’s head of content protection.
La Liga has also been eager to develop tech solutions that will help to reduce the risk of match fixing to ensure the ongoing integrity of the competition.
It has been using new artificial intelligence software that can analyse up to three million data points in a day to detect potential irregularities in betting patterns
The first ever convictions for sporting corruption in Spanish football occurred earlier this year, with five former Osasuna directors and two former Real Betis players given jail sentences.
This followed an investigation into match fixing in 2013 and 2014, and other possible cases are currently being examined including a game between Villarreal and Getafe last year.
“We are proud of the quantity and diversity of the technology solutions that have been certified,” Franco said.
“This is a range of very distinct technology, from artificial intelligence to streaming to tracking illegal content. We work to apply the best of each discipline to different business areas.”