Twist and new disappointment for French football. Announced as the messiah following the defection of Mediapro, Canal + announced on Tuesday that it was giving up its current rights to broadcast Ligue 1 to favor the launch of a new call for tenders. Decryption of a balance of power that has been reversed between the LFP and its historical broadcaster.
A call for tenders to promote Ligue 1 at the right price
The media release of Maxime Saada, the chairman of the management board of the Canal + group, in the columns of the Figaro Tuesday has not finished shaking the leaders of the L1 clubs. While everything seemed to indicate that Canal would be the savior of French football following the withdrawal of the late conquistador Mediapro, the encrypted channel does not want to take on this role by paying a high price. On the contrary even.
Pretext the degradation of the “Ligue 1” product linked to the commercial failure of Mediapro (less than 500,000 subscribers) and the concomitant acceleration of streaming, Maxime Saada therefore waives his current rights (2 matches broadcast per day) and requests the launch of a new call for tenders so that the broadcasting of the League 1 is valued at the right price.
So in the eyes of Canal, not only the billion promised in 2018 by Mediapro has always been a hoax that time has taken care to expose in broad daylight, but worse in the meantime the L1 has lost its interest and its appeal …
Canal doesn’t need Ligue 1 so much anymore
Behind the decision of C + to restore its current rights to broadcast the championship, there are also two messages to read.
First of all the annoyance of a group who has long financed the development of professional football and who is avenging himself for the affront inflicted on him by the greedy club presidents by giving in to the advances of the exotic Mediapro. Ostensibly Canal refuses the hand extended by a financially strapped French football.
Then, the encrypted channel has proven in recent months that its program schedule suffered little from the absence of Ligue 1 on its antennas. With the Premier League, the Top 14 and motorsports in particular, Canal has diversified its sports offering and reached very satisfactory audience levels. So broadcasting all of Ligue 1 is not a requirement for Vivendi’s flagship channel, and his will clearly tends to favor the distribution of large posters which attract the public en masse. It is a position diametrically opposed to that of the League, convinced that, in order to exist, a pay channel needed to acquire all the rights to the championship, and at a high price so as not to leave them to its competitors.
The ingenious proposition of Pay per View
Maxime Saada dismantles the League’s strategy and goes even further by proposing for the end of the 2020-2021 season a payment for matches per session, the return of the famous pay per view, integrating the redistribution of income generated by sessions to the LFP and to the clubs visualized.
The strategy is ingenious since it insinuates that it is the viewers themselves who will define the true value of the Ligue 1 product by taking out their credit card to have access to the matches of their choice.
And this valuation would allow Canal to better prepare the ground for the call for tenders that the LFP would relaunch.
It is above all one more threat for French football thus laid bare, and a very unfavorable practice for small clubs which, not benefiting from the same audiences as PSG, Marseille or Lyon, would be economically very impacted. The weather keeps getting darker for the finances of Ligue 1 residents …
Maxime Saada is taking a hell of a risk by asking for the launch of a new call for tenders which may escape him as in 2018 against Mediapro. But the firm position of the boss of Canal + also shows that French football has become more than ever at the mercy of broadcasters and that the time for gifts is over.
Credits One © Jeff Pachoud-AFP