Ballr Has Eyed Asia, Europe, With Free To Play Fantasy Game
Legal Sports Report

Spanish Soccer’s LaLiga Inks Deal With Fantasy Sports App Ballr

laliga fantasy sports
The top division in Spanish soccer, LaLiga, announced a deal with a fantasy sports app, Ballr, this week.

It’s one of the biggest deals for a sport outside of North America regarding a foray into fantasy sports. The European Tour for golf and daily fantasy sports site PlayON entered into a deal in 2016.

The deal for LaLiga and Ballr

LaLiga announced that it entered into a sponsorship agreement with Ballr “to develop a digital game over the next three years.”

Ballr is not like typical daily fantasy sports sites and apps, as there are no entry fees for players. But users do pick players and are in the running to win prizes through the platform. It appears to have elements of “in-game” fantasy in that users can make changes or pick players in the middle of games.

More from LaLiga and Ballr on the deal:

“This agreement with Ballr is an excellent opportunity for LaLiga fans to come into contact through a digital medium and it’s also a fantastic way for them to connect with LaLiga Santander,” stated LaLiga president Javier Tebas. Just as he has explained on other occasions, LaLiga wants to be close to its fans and that is why efforts are being made in various areas to give them something extra during matches.

“LaLiga is committed to improving the fans’ experience and Ballr shares those values with us, which is why we want to build a sponsorship relationship together over three years,” explained Adolfo Bara, LaLiga’s managing director of sales, marketing and sponsorship.

“With a global audience of 2.5 billion people in over 180 countries, LaLiga is one of the best sporting competitions in the world. At Ballr we’re convinced that this agreement will help us with our aim of connecting the world through live sport,” added Sam Jones, Ballr CEO.

The backstory of Ballr

Founded in 2015, the company has focused mostly on Asian markets to date. That includes Indonesia and Thailand. Last year, Ballr announced a partnership with the English Premier League’s Machester City. The company reported in 2016 that it raised $4 million in seed capital.

According to Ballr’s site, “the app launches in Asia in February 2017 covering all EPL fixtures. Other major leagues will be added in 2017 including LaLiga, Serie A, CSL and A League.”

Interestingly, the site’s domain once belonged to a now defunct DFS operator that served the US.

Many approaches to DFS outside of North America

There are currently a variety of different ways that operators are trying to implement DFS in Europe, beyond the free-to-play model from Ballr. DFS has not established itself as a mainstream product there:

  • DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo have all ported versions of their North American-facing product to the UK.
  • DFS platforms like Oulala, Mondogoal and Global Daily Fantasy Sports are partnering with existing online gambling and sports betting operators, or attempting to.
  • PokerStars just rolled out its own version of a proprietary DFS platform, BetStarsJackpots.

Which one will work, if any? Or is there room for more than one type of fantasy product? We’re still a ways from learning the answer to those questions.

Image credit: LevanteMedia / Shutterstock.com

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.