Canal Plus in talks to acquire beIN Sports in France

French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus is in talks to buy beIN Sports, with a target completion date for the deal of before the summer, according to French media reports.

It is thought that Canal Plus needs to move quickly to shore up its position in a crowded market, particularly with the arrival of the Mediapro agency, which beat Canal Plus to French Ligue 1 rights for the 2020-24 term.

“Canal Plus is exposed because of the loss of Ligue 1 and the Uefa Champions League. Maybe without Ligue 1, they could lose 30-to-40 per cent of their subscribers,” one industry source told SportBusiness Media.

The broadcaster lost the Champions League rights to RMC Sport’s owner, the telco Altice.

The source added: “Canal Plus could buy beIN Sports or go for an exclusive distribution deal, but it makes more sense to buy them. It also makes sense for beIN because they have lost money in the past and their strategy to stand alone is difficult to maintain.”

BeIN Media declined to comment on the reports.

The acquisition would give Canal Plus ownership of beIN’s Sports’ extensive rights portfolio in France, which includes the NBA, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s LaLiga and the Men’s World Handball Championship.

Canal Plus holds rights in France to International Basketball Federation (Fiba) events, the English Premier League and US PGA Championship golf.

A move by Canal Plus for beIN Sports would mark the start of a long-anticipated consolidation in the French pay-television market. However, it would face serious scrutiny from the country’s competition regulators.

The country currently has four major premium sports players: Canal Plus, beIN Sports, RMC Sport and Mediapro. Sports broadcaster Eurosport is also a significant participant in the French market and is carried exclusively on Canal Plus’ pay-television platform.