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Top-tier football league LaLiga and subscription TV platform Movistar Plus+ have won a joint lawsuit in Spain that allows them to block IPTV services until 2025 without needing permission from the courts. A second lawsuit won by Movistar Plus+ allows the TV platform to advise local ISPs of piracy-facilitating sites on a weekly basis and have them blocked within three hours.
Spanish top-tier football league LaLiga is a corporate giant.
During the 2020/21 season, LaLiga clubs achieved revenues of almost 3.2 billion euros and with the assistance of LaLiga’s own anti-piracy division, the football group only wants to see that increase.
Owned by Telefónica, one of the world’s largest telecoms and internet companies, Movistar Plus+ is the largest TV subscription platform in Spain. Through sports streamer DAZN, Movistar Plus+ has a distribution deal to air LaLiga matches until 2027, and everyone involved would prefer LaLiga fans to pay for their content, not pirate it.
LaLiga and Movistar have previously made separate efforts to curtail piracy by going after the notorious sports streaming site RojaDirecta and teaming up with the police to take down pirate IPTV suppliers. In the background, however, one of the key goals is to increase and improve ISP blocking.
LaLiga & Movistar Plus+ Win Enhanced Blocking Powers
In an announcement Thursday, Telefónica revealed that subsidiary Movistar Plus+ and LaLiga had emerged with a joint win following a lawsuit heard before the Commercial Court No. 9 of Barcelona.
The court heard that enhanced ISP blocking powers are necessary to protect the companies’ rights. Due to the fluid nature of pirate IPTV and other streaming services, it is no longer sufficient to block domain names and IP addresses in the hope that they will remain the same over time.
Instead, ISP blocking needs to be more nimble – more dynamic – and that can’t be achieved with ever-recurring visits to the court to obtain permission. The Court agreed and on July 25 handed down a decision that will allow LaLiga and Movistar Plus+ to respond in a much more timely manner.
Once new URLs, domains, and IP addresses of pirate services are identified as infringers of the companies’ rights, blocking of the same will take place on a weekly basis, with no need to identify the Court in advance. The new arrangement follows in the footsteps of previous blocking orders won by LaLiga.
“The decision will be in force until the 2024/2025 season and will begin its operation from the week of August 8, before the start of LaLiga football on August 12,” Telefónica’s statement adds.
Movistar Plus+ Victorious in Separate Lawsuit
Given that effective blocking orders need to be applied across all internet service providers, it’s no surprise that Movistar Plus+ wants local ISPs on board to protect its own content. In addition to the LaLiga deal, the subscription TV platform holds rights to UEFA competitions and has agreements with DAZN, Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video, among others.
A decision handed down July 27 by the Mercantile Court number 6 of Barcelona should help Movistar Plus+ to achieve its goals. Valid for three sports seasons until the end of the football championships in the 2024/25 season, the order allows the pay TV platform to supply continuously updated pirate IPTV blocking instructions to local internet service providers.
“[T]he blockade must be carried out within a maximum period of three hours from the notification of the new list,” Telefónica explains, adding that the list does not need to be approved by the court and covers all Movistar Plus+ content, not just football matches.
One Spanish telecoms company that won’t mind helping out Movistar Plus+ is Orange España. While it directly competes with Movistar, a telecoms company also owned by Telefónica, Orange recently did a deal with Telefónica to offer coverage of LaLiga and UEFA matches in Spain.
What Could Possibly Be Driving People to IPTV Piracy?
The announcement comes on the heels of a new Uswitch report revealing that Premier League fans in the UK will need to dig deep if they want to enjoy the new season on TV. After subscribing to Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime Video to gain access to all televised matches (but not all matches played), the average cost to a fan watching all of their team’s games will be £21.93 per match.
“However, fans of Bournemouth, Fulham and Nottingham Forest – the three promoted sides – will be paying £35.67 per game to watch their favorite club, based on how often each team’s games are televised,” Uswitch added.
For perspective, users of pirate IPTV services in the UK and Spain will probably pay less than £10/€10 per month for several thousand channels, including every match and event offered by Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, NHL, NBA, and UFC. Plus every movie and TV show, including everything Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video has to offer.
Expensive TV sports packages are known to drive uptake of cheap pirate IPTV services so until something changes to make legal options more affordable, ISP blocking will attempt to frustrate fans towards legality. What blocking can’t do is put more disposable money into people’s pockets.