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Canal Plus Loses Ligue 1 TV Rights to Mediapro as Auction Raises EUR 1.15 Bln

The French football league LFP said it has awarded five of the seven packages of Ligue 1 broadcast rights for the 2020-2024 period, for a record EUR 1.15 billion per season. Spanish broadcasting group Mediapro, majority-owned by Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai, won three of the seven lots on offer, including the one featuring the championship’s top ten matches. Current rights owner beIN Sports secured one smaller lot, while Iliad entered the football broadcasting stage for the first time buying the rights to near-live highlights. Canal Plus, which splits Ligue 1 rights with beIN Sports for the 2016-2020 seasons, bid for each of the seven lots but failed to secure any of the packages.

The record EUR 1.15 billion raised per season represents a 60 percent increase on the previous Ligue 1 auction for the 2016-2020 period, not including the two packages that are still unsold. Unlike in previous auctions, the winners can sublicense the rights – a change made by the LFP to attract bids over a wider spectrum of potential investors. Canal Plus said in a statement that it will now consider all its options, including sublicensing and possible partnerships with other media groups.

Commenting on its surprise win, Iliad revealed that it bid less than EUR 50 million per season to secure the rights to near-live highlights of all Ligue 1 games. Iliad’s package also includes rights to a magazine programme showcasing the best moments from each match day.

The LFP said that Mediapro plans to launch a channel entirely dedicated to French football, bringing to the country the experience acquired in other leading markets. In Spain, the company owns the domestic rights to air games from La Liga and the Champions League. In February, it entered the auction organised by Italy’s top-tier Serie A football league for the 2018-2021 seasons, winning the tender with an annual bid of EUR 1.05 billion. However, this deal was terminated after a legal challenge and a new auction is now set to take place. – Telecompaper

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