- Ligue 1 is targeting €1bn a year for domestic and international rights
- Current domestic rights are shared between Amazon and Canal+
- Previous record deal with Mediapro terminated after four months
French soccer’s Professional Football League (LFP) wants to extend the duration of its domestic broadcast contracts from four to five years ahead of a tender later this year, according to sports newspaper L’Equipe.
The LFP is said to believe longer arrangements will drive up revenues and narrow the financial gap with major European leagues in England, Germany, Italy, and Spain, all of which have more lucrative television deals.
Specifically, L’Equipe’s report says the LFP believes broadcast partners will have more time to build audiences and return on investment. In the long-term, this will drive more subscriptions and see the value of the rights increase cycle-on-cycle, meaning more revenue for clubs in Ligue 1 and the second-tier Ligue 2.
Italy’s Serie A has also made moves to increase its cycle length in a bid to drive its own domestic and international revenue.
However, a hurdle remains with the league needing to convince French ministers and competition authorities of these benefits. Longer contracts will mean rival broadcasters are frozen out for longer, potentially affecting the pay-TV television market in France, the LFP says a more successful Ligue 1 will mean more competition when the rights come up for sale.
Furthermore, it says consumers will not be required to change subscriptions as frequently if there is a more long-term destination for its rights, reducing friction. A decision on the matter is expected in September, with a tender going out to market shortly after.
Ligue 1’s domestic rights are currently held by Amazon Prime, which shows eight games a week, and Canal+, which broadcasts two matches through a sublicensing agreement it has with BeIN Sports. Amazon pays €275 million a season, while Canal+ pays BeIN Sports €330 million. Both contracts expire at the end of the 2023/2024 season.
The LFP hopes to achieve in excess of €1 billion a season for its domestic and international broadcast rights in the next cycle. BeIN Sports currently pays €70 million a year to market Ligue 1 globally – a figure that many French top-flight clubs believe to be too low. LFP is understood to be eyeing an increase to €200 million a season for the rights to matches outside France.
Longer-term broadcast contracts might reduce the LFP’s ability to react to market trends or changes in technology, but they will give its clubs financial certainty and potentially close the revenue gap with European rivals in the Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga, and Serie A.
Recent investment from private equity firm CVC Partners also helps to explain the desire for more stability – as does the league’s recent history. Mediapro was the original senior rights partner for this cycle, promising to pay a record €814 million a year to show eight matches a week on the newly-established Telefoot network, starting in 2020/21.
However the agreement was terminated just four months into the first season, with Amazon securing the rights for a cut price deal worth less than a third of the original price. Canal+, frustrated at being unable to renegotiate its contract following the collapse of Telefoot and the process at which the rights were re-awarded to Amazon in 2021, took both matters the courts and failed on both counts.
The LFP will hope for a smoother ride in its next cycle.