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Canal Plus departs Ligue 1 as LFP seals lucrative deal with Mediapro, beIN

The Ligue de Football Professionnel has secured a 60 per cent increase in value for the domestic rights to Ligue 1 through deals with Spanish agency Mediapro and pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports, with the agreements ending the status of pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus as the long-time home of the top-tier competition.

The agreements announced on Tuesday evening see Mediapro become the new major player in Ligue 1 broadcasting, with the LFP recouping €1,153,471,723 ($1.38bn) per season for the rights or €4,613,886,892 in total for the four campaigns spanning 2020-21 to 2023-24. The current rights cycle, covering 2016-17 to 2019-20, generates a total of €748.5m per season.

The LFP launched a sales process for the rights last month with Monday having been set as the deadline for bids. As part of the sales process, the LFP scrapped its Saturday night multiplex offering, with the matches being switched to 3pm on Sundays.

The league said the shift would allow the LFP to offer three big matches in primetime on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings – a format used by Ligue 1 between 2008-09 and 2011-12. A new fixture will also kick off at 1pm on Sundays, an “optimal time in Asia”, the LFP has said.

A total of seven packages were made available, with Mediapro securing lots one, two and four. Lot one will offer one live match every Sunday at 9pm and two magazine programmes before and after the contest.

Lot two will include two live matches per round, including one match on Fridays at 9pm and one on Saturdays at 5pm, as well as a Friday evening pre-game programme. Lot four will feature up to five live matches per round kicking off at 1pm and 3pm on Sundays, as well as a Sunday morning magazine programme.

BeIN, an existing Ligue 1 rights partner, has secured lot three. This includes two live matches – one on Saturdays at 9pm and one on Sundays at 5pm – plus a post-match magazine programme on Saturday evenings.

Telco Free has secured lot six, which includes the rights to broadcast almost-live clips of all matches and video rights on demand.

Lot five, which includes the rights to the Trophee des Champions pre-season match, as well as the three multiplex days – on rounds 19, 37 and 38, plus the play-offs to decide promotion and relegation between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2; remains unsold, as does lot seven, which covers magazine programmes on Monday and Thursday evenings.

In a statement, the LFP said: “This good result is above all the fruit of the work and the important investments made by the clubs to produce a show of quality every weekend. This call for applications will enable us to catch up with some of our lag in domestic rights compared to other major European leagues. 

“This increase in audiovisual rights reflects the increase in audiences and attendance in stadiums. These increased amounts will help strengthen the clubs’ business models. Nevertheless, the amount of these rights will not be distributed until 2020. They will therefore need to remain vigilant for the next two years.”

Canal Plus has been the major partner of French football since 1984 and the LFP thanked it for playing a “vital role in improving the attractiveness of our sport and its influence throughout the country”.

In a statement, Canal Plus said it would examine the possibilities of sublicensing agreements, which are provided for and authorised by the rules of the tender. It added that it would also explore potential partnerships with the holders of premium sports rights, similar to the distribution agreements already in place with beIN and international sports broadcaster Eurosport.

However, the broadcaster’s general manager, Maxime Saada, also said it could launch a legal challenge against the auction’s result, according to the Reuters news agency.