M6 and TF1 ask to defer Euro 2020 rights payments

French free-to-air commercial broadcasters M6 and TF1 have asked to defer their rights payments for football’s 2020 European Championship after the tournament was pushed back by a year, it has been reported.

Having already paid 35 per cent of the rights fees due, the duo have written to Uefa, football’s European governing body, to ask that the remaining payments can be rescheduled until next season, reports L’Équipe.

M6 and TF1 finalised their rights deal with Uefa and its rights agency CAA Eleven in November last year. The two broadcasters are to pay a combined €50m ($54.4m) for free-to-air rights to a total of 23 matches.

Amidst the ongoing effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the football calendar, Uefa last month postponed Euro 2020 by 12 months in a bid to help domestic competitions across Europe be completed. The tournament was to be staged across 12 different cities between June 12 and July 12. It has now been rescheduled to June 11 to July 11, 2021.

M6 and TF1 were due to pay the remaining balance by the start of this June. They are thought to have paid a lower percentage of their total fee compared to other rights-holding broadcasters internationally because their agreement was signed off comparatively late. The first instalment is thought to have been made at the time of the deal and a second in January.

French pay-television broadcasters Canal Plus and beIN Sports have both recently suspended their rights payments to the country’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. The circumstances differ to the Euro 2020 rights scenario, however, as it remains unclear when French domestic football will resume and if the remainder of the 2019-20 calendar can be fulfilled.

M6 and TF1 are yet to receive a response from Uefa on their payment deferral request.

The free-to-air inventory acquired by M6 and TF1 comprises 12 group-stage matches, including the opening match and those of the French national team; five round-of-16 matches; three quarter-finals; the two semi-finals; and the final. The pair have shared the free-to-air rights to the tournament since 2008.

A pay-television deal for Euro 2020 was announced by beIN in January. The Qatar-backed broadcaster is paying around €35m for rights to all 51 matches, including 28 of them exclusively.

It remains to be seen if beIN will submit a similar demand to Uefa on the Euro 2020 payment schedule. Having acquired the rights at the start of the year, it is thought that the broadcaster still has the majority of its rights fee to settle.

The last two editions of the European Championships have also been broadcast in France by beIN. Indeed, the broadcaster used the Euro 2012 tournament as a launchpad for its new service in France (as Al Jazeera Sport).

Mediapro, the agency and production group launching football subscription channels in France, was interested in the Euro 2020 rights but is said to have withdrawn from the race given the size of the rights fee asking price.