Mediapro targets up to 3.5m subscribers for French soccer channel, and won't sue Uefa
Mediapro, the sports rights and production company, has set a medium-term target of between 3 million and 3.5 million subscribers for its French soccer channel that will feature live coverage of Ligue 1, the country’s top soccer league.
Spain-based Mediapro is launching the pay-television channel in 2020 on the back of its swoop for the main packages of rights to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for the next four years.
The service will be priced at €25 ($27.85) per month.
Meanwhile, Mediapro has withdrawn its threat to sue Uefa over the allocation of French Champions League rights to established pay-TV operators Canal Plus and BeIN Sports.
Late last week, Jaume Roures, the founder of Mediapro, and Julien Bergeaud, the newly-installed managing director of Mediapro France, attended the LFP general assembly, and subsequently announced further plans for the channel, which will be offered to established pay-television platforms and streaming services.
Bergeaud said: “We will revolutionise the pay-TV market in France… We will collaborate with all the distributors who want it (the channel), traditional but also new, especially with OTT platforms.”
He added that the channel would be “a 100-per-cent French football product”, and that viewers would benefit from innovations such as a doubling of the number of games shown in 4K UHD and additional cameras and new immersive viewing angles.
The channel will go live next summer, with eight matches from each round of fixtures from Ligue 1 and another eight from Ligue 2, with potential distributors including pay-television operators Canal Plus and Orange, but also major streaming players such as Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
The meeting took place in the same week that Canal Plus and BeIN announced plans for an expanded distribution partnership in which BeIN would sub-license to Canal Plus two live Ligue 1 games on each match day for the next four seasons.
Mediapro is paying around €800 million per annum for its Ligue 1 rights, and was last week looking to assuage any concerns among the clubs over the entry of a new player in the French market.
However, it can count on the full support of the LFP whose president Nathalie Boy de la Tour reiterated “confidence in the project” of Mediapro.
She also denied that the proposed Canal Plus-BeIN pact would have a negative impact, claiming it had “clarified the market, in a period of excitement,” while LFP director general Didier Quillot said: “The bipolarisation between a historic partner, Canal, and a new entrant, Mediapro, simplifies things for the consumer.”
In May 2018, Mediapro picked up the lion’s share of rights to Ligue 1 as the agency, pay-TV's BeIN Sports and telecoms group Free were awarded the five main packages for a total of €1.153 billion ($1.27 billion) per season in a four-year deal starting in 2020-21, a 59-per-cent uplift on the current outlay of Canal Plus and BeIN. Mediapro's share will account for €780 million per season.
Seven months later, Mediapro and BeIN acquired Ligue 2 rights for €64 million per season, nearly three times the annual figure of €22 million committed at present by BeIN and Canal Plus, also in a four-year deal.
Mediapro had hoped to add the Champions League to its offering in France, but was outflanked by Canal Plus and BeIN, which have secured the rights for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle (commercial broadcaster TF1 will show the finals) in deals worth a reported €375 million per year.
Mediapro had threatened to sue Uefa, claiming that the tender was conducted improperly and that it was wrongly sidelined after the second round of bidding.
However, it has now backed away from this action, with Roures telling L’Equipe on the sidelines of the LFP meeting that it was “not going to file a complaint.”
He claimed that while Uefa should have continued negotiations with Mediapro, the company was not prepared to pay as much as Canal Plus and BeIN had ultimately offered.
It is however holding talks with Altice over potentially taking on the French telecoms firm's last season of coverage of the Champions League, in the 2020-21 season.