Mediapro ‘set to appoint’ French football executive Roussier

Mediapro, the production and agency group heavily involved in sports broadcasting, is thought to be close to appointing French football and broadcast executive Jean-Michel Roussier as its deputy director general for its new channels project in France.

Roussier’s departure as president of Nancy was announced by the Ligue 2 side yesterday (Tuesday) and he will soon take up a position at Mediapro France leading editorial and production operations, reports L’Équipe.

He would support Julien Bergeaud, who was appointed as the head of Mediapro France six months ago.

The appointment, if confirmed, would provide a conduit between the French league clubs and Mediapro, along with experience in the French football broadcast landscape.

In 2006, Roussier’s production firm Exprim developed the Onzéo channel project. The channel signed up various French football clubs and showed delayed coverage of the clubs’ domestic and European matches. In 2011, he was chosen by the French Football League (LFP) to head up CFoot, its short-lived pay-television channel.

Mediapro is launching subscription channels in France on the back of its €780m- ($836m-) per-season contract for eight Ligue 1 rights packages from 2020-21 to 2023-24. Rights to Ligue 2 have also been secured over the same period, along with Uefa Europa League rights (from 2021-22 to 2023-24).

Mediapro has yet to comment on reports of the expected arrival of Roussier, who also served as Marseille president between 1995 and 1999.

The appointment of Roussier would be reflective of Mediapro’s will to get the clubs on board to help put the production plans in place and generate various behind-the-scenes content.

Speaking earlier this month at an event organised by News Tank, Bergeaud said that Mediapro had visited all the stadiums and is looking to equip “a certain number” of grounds with new cameras. These will include “immersive” aerial cameras and cameras behind the goals offering a “180-degree” view.

Mediapro recently submitted its application for its new pay-television service to the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), the French broadcast regulator. A name for the channel has yet to be revealed although Bergeaud said that it has been chosen, along with the branding.

The service is set to go live on July 25 to tie in with the first Ligue 2 coverage.

A target of 3.5 million subscribers has been set for a service set to cost €25 per month.

Talks have been held with pay-television broadcaster RMC Sport about taking over the final season of its Uefa Champions League contract (in 2020-21).

On the topic of carriage agreements, Bergeaud said on February 5: “We will be distributed via all the distributors who wish to do so and we will also address all the new [distribution] means, all devices and all the means of broadcast by OTT.”

Mediapro has been criticised in the French press for the general lack of information over its plans to showcase Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 rights from 2020-21 onwards. Jaume Roures, the Mediapro chief executive, addressed the press in October and said it would “begin to build the channel” in January “as it always said it will”.

He stressed: “There is no point in having a channel now. What am I going to do with it when we don’t have rights? Why pay rent and staff now?” He said that staff had been recruited but could not be announced given they are under contract elsewhere.