L'Equipe adds to motorsport portfolio with Le Mans 24 Hours
L’Equipe, the free-to-air digital terrestrial channel in France, has acquired rights to motor racing’s iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans until 2023.
The deal with race owner Automobile Club de l’Ouest was brokered by Infront, the sports agency that distributes international broadcast rights to the FIA World Endurance Championship, the series of long-distance sports car races that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The agreement begins with this year’s edition, which takes place across 21 and 22 August, with last year’s event having been postponed by three months (from June to September) because of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping through France during 2020.
L’Equipe replaces long-standing rights-holder France Télévisions after the public-service broadcaster’s latest deal expired last year.
France Télévisions had shown the prestigious endurance race free-to-air since 1995, except for two editions in 2006 and 2007 which were broadcast exclusively by pay-TV giant Canal Plus.
L'Equipe will provide live coverage of 18 of the 24 hours of the Le Mans event for the next three years, the only WEC race missing from the channel's portfolio.
Since 2016, L'Equipe has been co-broadcasting other WEC events, as well as all World Motorcycle Endurance Championship (EWC) events including the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle, with Eurosport, the pan-European sports broadcaster.
The channel had already strengthened its motorsport offering at the start of the year after snapping up rights to the Formula E world championship, the electric motor racing series.
Eurosport will continue to have pay-TV rights to the race in France, having done so since 2008, and will provide exclusive coverage of six hours out of the 24.
Infront’s current three-year deal as the marketer of international rights to the WEC ends this year. The agency replaced rival IMG in the role in 2015.
Yesterday, IMG Licensing, a division of the international sports marketing agency, extended its deal as ACO’s licensing partner until 2024.