LaLiga India head Jose Antonio Cachaza on in-stadia advertising in Covid-19 era, league’s crackdown on piracy & importance of diversity

Spain’s top league LaLiga was the second major league to restart in the Covid-19 era and saw its international viewership grow by more than 48% on its first matchday of the league’s restart. LaLiga recently joined hands with Mediapro to enhance programming experience on Facebook Watch for the fans in the Indian Sub-Continent. The Playknox spoke with Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, LaLiga India about the partnership, LaLiga’s India operations amidst Covid-19, the league’s crackdown on illegal streaming, ensuring diversity & inclusion among other things. 


What has been the impact of Covid-19 on LaLiga?

The impact has been massive on the global sporting realm. Let’s put it at two levels – at the global level of course there is an impact as everything is related to match day revenue and all the additional revenues such as museum visits in case of the bigger clubs is gone since March when the lockdown was first imposed. For stadium attendance, we are still months away of being allowed at full capacity so that impact is there. In the other parts of business like broadcast and sponsorship revenues, the situation is moderately contained.

To talk about India, it is a market of future for us as we are currently only investing here. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have business relationships here. We have our broadcasters Facebook and partners like Dream 11 and BKT Tyres and we are in touch with all of them. Facebook is already back in business as they are broadcasting the games. We are in close contact with all our sponsors and trying to adjust to this new situation and all the problems.


Tell us more about your partnership with Mediapro.

We work with Mediapro in different areas at the global level. They handle all the production area of our matches in Spain and are also our international partners for all broadcast sales. Through this relationship, we have been developing and working in new areas with them.

We recently worked with them to adopt new remote production techniques to continue creating familiar programming via Facebook Watch to appeal to the Indian fan base. LaLiga is broadcasted for free via the social network in the Indian subcontinent. The broadcast arrangement in India is unique for a major league with all games being shown online for free, while programming also makes heavy use of fan interaction via the Facebook platform.


What is your take on artificial fan noises in broadcasting?

To begin with, I don’t like using the word ‘artificial’. The only thing artificial is that it’s not actually happening in the stadium but what you usually hear are the actual recordings from the previous matches in that stadium. Therefore, I prefer to call it as ‘digital sound’.

They are not artificial as they aren’t artificially created but then obviously the fans aren’t there in the stadium and therefore, its not real. Its a response to the situation and as soon as the fans come back in the stadiums, you will have to show the reality of what’s going in the stadiums. Broadcast of sports is about enhancing reality and not creating a new reality. Hopefully, when we restart the season in September there will be some fans in the stadium.



With clubs/organisations adopting innovative marketing methods, do you brands can still capitalise on matches despite them being held behind closed doors?

When it comes to in-stadia advertising during the match, you need to be very careful. Basically everything happening since the last 10 years is about streamlining how the advertisement reaches the fans. In LaLiga we have two lines of advertising – one is the LED line and second is the fixed boards where only one inked adverts are allowed because its not about having lots of colours and advertising.  It is true that we are seeing a little bit of additional advertising for eg. In Nou Camp with a vast array of new technology initiatives being tested and integrated for the post Covid-19 restart of sports leagues across Europe, FC Barcelona decided to temporarily install a second row of LED to enhance in broadcast brand exposure. But one can’t make the entire background as a new advertising screen because that will be too disturbing.

So I think the new opportunities for the brands will be through the evolution we are having.  In most matches, its not LED but rather DVR (digital video recorder) boards. Basically, in many FC Barcelona, Real Madrid matches, the LED advertising is regional so the advertising you see in India, isn’t what you will see in Mexico or in Spain. The same happens with the goal side carpets which are digital now and that’s the way of maximizing impact.  We don’t have many brands that want or have the means for investing in global advertising and are only interested in regional promotions. Once the fans are back, all these new measures will be out.


LaLiga has been constantly cracking down on anti-piracy. It recently won an anti-piracy ruling in Moscow and due to its efforts Saudi Arabia has now blocked illegal streaming websites. Tell us more about how you cooperated with other organisations to crack down on piracy?

Piracy is something that affects every sports right owner.  For eg. Cricket – if fans watch IPL on a pirate website and not through Hotstar or Star, it will mean less revenue for Hotstar and then Star can pay less for IPL rights. This dynamic applies to everyone. In Spain, piracy was quite widespread so that’s why we decided to take stringent action against pirated websites. Also, if you log on to these illegal streaming websites, its not just LaLiga but rather can watch almost anything from LaLiga to NFL to NBA to IPL. We partnered with The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL), the Spanish Football League (LaLiga), NAGRA and Nordic Content Protection and managed to shutdown an illegal IPTV streaming network based in Spain that served more than two million paying subscribers worldwide. We are always open to cooperate and transfer our expertise to any other league or agency as it is a fight where we all have our interest in.


Will the strategy around LaLiga Schools in India change?

We are at such a level of uncertainty that we have plans but we don’t know how and when we can execute them. All our business in India came to a standstill in March and we haven’t restarted it yet due the ongoing lockdown.  Our program is associated with schools in India which are all closed. Once schools reopen and situation becomes a bit normal, only then we can think of restarting our projects. However, to keep the ball rolling we have been organising remote training for students and its working fairly well with more than 300 kids in attendance. Sports is about contact and it has to come back at what it is but till then we are working on training methods that  maintain social distancing and limit social contact between kids.


What is LaLiga doing to ensure there is enough diversity and inclusion in the organisation?

At LaLiga we have best professionals working for us. We also manage various international tournaments like we have been supporting Women’s league in Spain for the last three to five years. We also support various NGO projects via LaLiga Foundation. Last year we launched a soccer-based socio-educational project at Zaatari camp in Jordan in a bid to improve Syrian refugees’ quality of life. We have LaLiga Genuine in Spain which is an example for world football.

The teams are composed of players with intellectual disabilities and aims to normalise the practice of taking part in sport. In India, we have agreement with Rural Development Trust in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh, Through the Anantapur Football League (AFL), managed by the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, La Liga plays a big part in ensuring that around 2,000 boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 19 have the opportunity to play sport and receive education. At LaLiga, we have many women at the top management position as our policy is no discrimination.

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