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Canal Plus poised to sell on Tokyo 2020 pay-TV rights to Eurosport

Canal Plus, the French pay-TV broadcaster, is expected to soon finalise the sale of its broadcast rights to the 2020 Olympic Games to Eurosport, the Discovery-owned broadcaster that already holds the rights to the Tokyo games across the rest of Europe, with the exception of Russia.

The Vivendi-owned broadcaster has opted to sell on the pay-TV rights as it seeks to avoid expensive production costs, the creation of the necessary extra channels and having to send a large editorial team to an Olympics that will take place in an unfavourable time zone, reports L’Équipe.

Eurosport already holds pay-TV rights in France to Beijing’s 2022 winter Olympics and Paris’ 2024 summer Olympics, having sold on the exclusive free-to-air rights to public broadcaster France Télévisions, which also holds rights to next year’s Olympics.

In 2015, France Télévisions sub-licensed to Canal Plus the pay-TV rights to the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 games. Canal Plus went on to showcase its coverage from Rio across eight channels, including the dedicated ‘Canal+ Rio’ channel, and offered close to 800 hours of live content.

However, the pay-TV broadcaster is increasingly feeling the pressure on its sports rights and productions margins. Earlier this year, the broadcaster recouped some of its investment in English Premier League rights by signing off on an agreement with pay-TV rival RMC Sport to share full live coverage from 2019-20 to 2021-22.

The Olympics are also not likely to be seen by Canal Plus a key driver of new subscriptions, unlike leading domestic or international football properties.

Indeed, any revenue generated through the on-sale of the Tokyo 2020 rights could aid the broadcaster’s chances of landing rights to the Uefa Champions League and Europa League, after an invitation to submit offers was recently issued by the Team Marketing agency.

The rights in France to PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 were excluded from Discovery’s €1.3-bn ($1.45-bn) four-Games European rights agreement with the International Olympic Committee as rights had already been sold to France Télévisions in 2011.

Canal Plus has aired action from every summer Olympics since 1992, with the exception being London 2012. During those games, France Télévisions and BeIN Sports shared the rights as the Qatar-backed subscription broadcaster launched in the French market. Free-to-air commercial network TF1 also showed the opening and closing ceremonies live.