French pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports France has decided against pursuing an extension of its rights deal for rugby league’s Super League beyond the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.
The competition, which is overseen by England’s Rugby Football League, features one French club, Catalans Dragons.
BeIN Sports’ current two-year deal, which will expire at the end of this season, features live coverage of all Catalans Dragons home games and a selection of other matches from the Super League and the RFL’s Challenge Cup knockout tournament.
However, according to French newspaper l’Independant, beIN Sports “quickly informed” Super League officials that it would be unwilling to negotiate a new rights deal after the broadcaster had been told that the competition’s chief executive, Robert Elstone, is seeking a significant increase in the rights fee.
The newspaper added that beIN Sports, which has offered Super League coverage since 2012, paid “up to €70,000 ($78,500) per season” for the rights and also covered production costs of approximately €20,000 per Catalans Dragons home game.
Elstone, who was reported to have been “astonished” by the decision by beIN Sports, has already approached other French broadcasters regarding a possible rights deal for next season, including pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus.
BeIN Sports will continue to broadcast coverage of the National Rugby League, Australia’s top rugby league competition, until at least the end of the 2020 season.
BeIN Sports first picked up the Super League rights after Orange Sport, France Télécom’s erstwhile sports channel, closed down and the Qatar-backed broadcaster launched its French operation (in the summer of 2012).