Canal + will not make a gift to the League for TV rights: the encrypted channel asked Tuesday, January 13 for a new call for tenders for all Ligue 1 matches, posing the threat of an even more drastic reduction in television revenues for clubs.
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Believing that “Ligue 1 has lost a lot of value” with the Covid-19 crisis and the withdrawal of the major broadcaster Mediapro negotiated in December, the boss of Canal +, Maxime Saada, announced in an interview with Figaro that his channel intended to return to the Professional Football League (LFP) its share of matches (20% of L1), wishing to see all of the matches put back on sale via a new call for tenders.
“We finally came to the conclusion on the Canal + side that it was in the interest of all stakeholders to go through a call for tenders”, said Maxime Saada, while, according to several sources familiar with the matter, the League favored a reallocation via a mutual agreement between the two parties.
Record contracts signed in 2018
Canal + currently broadcasts 20% of Ligue 1 matches, via a sub-license signed with BeIN Sports, for an annual amount of 330 million euros. The remaining 80% are still broadcast on Téléfoot, the channel of the Sino-Spanish group Mediapro, even though the latter negotiated its withdrawal with the League last December.
A box and a camera from the Spanish company Mediapro, then broadcaster of the L1, during the match between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon, December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes / AFP / Archives
Initially, the contract for the broadcasting of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for the 2020-24 cycle had broken records, reaching the annual amount of 1.217 billion euros, of which more than 800 million for the Mediapro group alone, new came to the French market.
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But since September, Mediapro wanted to renegotiate its contract downwards and ended up agreeing to withdraw from the market, in return for compensation of 100 million euros against the promise not to be sued.
Canal + has always insisted, since the 2018 call for tenders, that Ligue 1 had been overestimated by Mediapro. In October, Maxime Saada had already indicated that the channel would refuse to “Reinvest at a loss in football”. On Tuesday, the leader also insisted that Canal did not “Not been treated properly in recent years” by French football, between the call for tenders and the postponements of matches because of the demonstrations of “yellow vests” for example.
Canal + alone in the running?
For the Vivendi group channel, the call for tenders is a risk: by returning its lots, it runs the risk of leaving empty-handed about the future allocation. But in the opinion of all observers, few other broadcasters (RMC Sport? Amazon? The DAZN platform?) Seem able to invest a lot of money in French football.
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In addition, Canal + has an agreement with its former competitor BeIN Sports, and several sources close to the negotiations questioned in recent days saw them act together on the matter.
For the LFP, which had not reacted in the evening Tuesday, the call for tenders suggests a drastic reduction in the TV rights of Ligue 1, which could be negotiated downwards.