Football broadcast rights : Ligue 1 championship booms into the billion

Football broadcast rights : Ligue 1 championship booms into the billion
Copyright REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
By Vincent Coste
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Canal Plus ended up empty-handed in a crucial football broadcasting rights auction in France on Tuesday, beaten by Spain’s Mediapro, as prices jumped by close to 60 percent.


The French Professional Football League (LFP) had dreamed about it and now it has become reality.

On Tuesday, the LFP said it had secured the domestic TV rights of the 2020-24 Ligue 1 in a record deal of €1.15 billion per season. By crossing the symbolic billion euro bar, The French Football Championship is rising to the heights of other major European leagues, excluding the English Premier League with its €2.3 billion value per season.

"This is a successful tender, with a significant increase in our TV rights," said LFP President Nathalie Boy de la Tour. The prices for the period 2016-2020 amounted to €762 million, which represents a rise of nearly 60%. The Spanish group Mediapro won the main "lots" auctioned by the League. The new player on the French market is based in Barcelona.

In Spain, Mediapro owns two TV channels, La Sexta and Gol. The company was created in 1994 and is now majority-owned by Hontai Capital, a private Chinese fund, with 53.3%. The second shareholder of Mediapro is WPP, an English advertising group that holds 22.5%.

However, and this is a first, the historical broadcaster of the French championship, Canal +, "is no longer awarded any lot" although it made offers "on each of the 7 lots" put on sale, said the general manager of the LFP Didier Quillot, recalling that it is a "partner of French football since 1984 and will remain so until 2020."

Mediapro took no fewer than three of the seven packages on offer, including lots 1 and 2, comprising the top 10 matches and a choice of 28 further matches, and Friday evening and Saturday’s 17:00 matches respectively.

Mediapro has also secured Lot 4, including Sunday early afternoon matches and four matches from 15:00 on Sundays.

Lot 3, which has Saturday at 21h and Sunday at 17h, has been awarded to BeIN Sports.

Two smaller lots were not awarded because the "reserve price" set by the LFP was not achieved, and will be up for sale "before the end of 2018," said the LFP.

How much will it cost the viewer?

In France, sports fans more specifically football fans will be hit hard by the sale since the various European championships are, or will be, held by different stakeholders. Currently, to watch all the European championship matches, as well as those of the two European Cups (Champions League and Europa League), football fans will have to pay €58,89 per month. That breaks down as €34.90 euros for Canal +, plus €15 for beIN Sports and €9.99 for SFR Sport. The explosion of Ligue 1 rights and the arrival of a new company have stirred up a lot of fear in people on social media. Many believe that rates may rise steeply.

On the other hand, some have pointed out the new attractiveness of Ligue 1, especially since the arrival of a certain Brazilian in the club of the French capital.

What about the rights to broadcasting other championships in their countries?

At the end of the call for applications, France ranks third in Europe regarding the number of domestic TV rights, behind England and Germany.

In Italy, the situation is complicated, to say the least. In February, the Spanish group Mediapro, the same group that has just made a roaring entry onto the French market, obtained the rights of the Serie A from 2018 to 2021 with an offer of €1.05 billion per year. But this project was rejected on May 9 by a court in Milan, and seized by Sky, one of the current football broadcasters in Italy.

In addition, the Serie A assembly of clubs voted unanimously to cancel that contract earlier in May, ruling that the guarantees presented by Mediapro were not sufficient.

In the meantime, the issue of broadcasting matches is becoming more and more problematic. The next season of Serie A begins on August 18th.

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