‘Sport in France’ extends French women’s handball coverage into 2020-21

The ‘Sport in France’ free-to-air channel will continue to broadcast the country’s top-tier women’s handball league into the 2020-21 season.

Inventory covers a minimum of 20 live Ligue Féminine de Handball matches. The first match to be broadcast is Saint-Amand v Fleury on September 9.

However, this season will differ from the usual format as there will not be a play-off after the end of the regular season. ‘Sport in France’s last deal comprised 16 regular-season fixtures and four play-off matches, including the play-off semi-finals and final. Last season’s LFH was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF), which owns ‘Sport in France’ had agreed a non-exclusive sublicensing deal for the 2019-season with free-to-air digital terrestrial broadcaster L’Équipe TV for the four play-off matches. The absence of these matches may mean that L’Équipe TV will no longer show the competition.

Rights-holder the French Handball Federation (FFHB), CNOSF and France’s National Sports Agency will continue to jointly bear production costs.

Last season, the CNOSF and its ‘Sport in France’ production partner Media365 met 25 per cent of the estimated €15,000 ($17,770) per match production costs, up to a maximum of €75,000.

LFH was responsible for 25 per cent of the costs, with the league contributing up to a maximum of €30,000 itself, while its title sponsor, Butagaz, and the constituent clubs contributed up to a ceiling of €30,000 and €15,000, respectively.

The National Sports Agency bore the remaining 50 per cent, up to a maximum of €150,000.

‘Sport in France’ has agreed to make its broadcast signal available free of charge to all broadcasters that reach agreement with the FFHB and the LFH to show matches. The LFH is ready to also make available to potential broadcasters those matches not shown by ‘Sport in France’.

The ‘Sport in France’ channel specialises in properties that do not have broadcast agreements.

Its deal with the LFH and the FFHB was initially intended to provide some breathing space for the latter to consider longer-term options for the property after the collapse of its prior long-term deal with pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports.