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LNR targets international growth as Canal Plus adds to Top 14 remit

French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus has added international rights to its domestic coverage of the Top 14 after agreeing a new deal with the Ligue Nationale de Rugby, operator of the country’s top division of rugby union.

Following a tender process that first launched on October 17, the LNR has awarded Canal Plus a six-season contract to market the international broadcast rights to the Top 14 spanning from 2019-20 to 2024-25. The deal also includes the second-tier Pro D2, commencing from the 2020-21 season.

Canal Plus is a long-term partner of the LNR and extended its domestic rights to the Top 14 under a four-season deal struck in May 2016 which covers the 2019-20 to 2022-23 campaigns.

In association with the new deal, the LNR has also approved the implementation of a new marketing plan designed to boost the international appeal of its competitions. The contract between the LNR and Canal Plus includes several new elements designed to strengthen the product offered to overseas broadcast partners.

On each day of the regular season, four Top 14 matches will be offered to international broadcasters with an international signal including graphics and commentary in English. For the top game of each day and for the finals, the LNR said an “internationally-renowned consultant” will join the commentary team as an analyst.

The LNR and Canal Plus will also offer pre-match and post-match interviews in the players’ native language for broadcast in the country concerned; packages on the star players of Top 14 and the history of the clubs and their cities. Match clips will also be offered for digital platforms.

The LNR said in a statement: “The LNR has decided to invest additional resources to accelerate the international development of the Top 14. Beyond the realisation of an international signal in English and the production of new content specifically dedicated to the international market, the LNR will also engage an ambitious marketing action plan to raise the profile of the Top 14 in the main rugby and developing countries, and to assert its status as a ‘benchmark’ championship worldwide.

“This action plan, which will be conducted with the help of international experts, will support the commercialisation of audiovisual rights.”