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Canal Plus and LNR reschedule main Top 14 matches

French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus has agreed with the Ligue Nationale de Rugby to change the timeslots from next season for the top two matches each week in the domestic Top 14 rugby union league.

The matches will be shown at 8.45pm (CET) on Friday and 9pm on Sunday. At present, they are shown at 8.45pm on Saturday and 4.40pm on Sunday.

The Friday match will be broadcast on Canal Plus Sport, while the Sunday match will be shown on the main Canal Plus premium channel.

Top 14 rights-holder the Ligue Nationale de Rugby said the new schedule “reinforces the exposure of our flagship championship”.

The rescheduling of the matches also frees up time in Canal’s schedule for the two Ligue 1 matches per week it has acquired from pay-television broadcaster beIN for the 2020-24 cycle as part of an exclusive distribution agreement. The two Ligue 1 matches in question are scheduled for Saturday at 9pm and Sunday at 5pm.

Canal Plus broadcasts all of the Top 14 matches as part of its four-year deal from 2019-20 to 2022-23, worth €97m ($106.2m) per year.

Public broadcaster France Télévisions holds free-to-air rights to the Top 14 final, a match that must be shown free on French television due to listed events legislation.

Canal Plus also holds the Top 14 international distribution rights from 2019-20 to 2024-25. The deal also includes the second-tier Pro D2 international rights from 2020-21.

The pay-television broadcaster shares Pro D2 coverage with the Discovery-owned Eurosport and France Télévisions for five seasons from 2015-16 to 2019-20.

However, Canal Plus acquired the exclusive domestic rights to the property from 2020-21 to 2026-27 and has been in talks with Eurosport to sublicense some rights.

LNR, which also owns the rights to Pro D2, is currently searching for a head of broadcast rights and content, working alongside Thibaut Chatelard, the LNR’s commercial and marketing director.