Canal Plus threatens French football power outage due to Amazon deal

Amazon has agreed to purchase the broadcasting rights for most of the top football matches in France in the next three seasons, in order to significantly expand its ambitions in the field of live sports in Europe.

On Friday, the e-commerce giant defeated Vivendi’s pay TV unit Canal Plus in a competitive auction held by the French Ligue 1 governing body Ligue Professionnelle de Football (LFP). There are eight games a week, as well as the second league 2.

A media industry executive close to the deal said that Amazon has agreed to pay about 275 million euros a year to screen about 80% of the top French events.

But the deal angered Vivendi’s executives because Canal Plus had previously agreed to pay 330 million euros for the remaining 20%, which means that only three games will be played a week.

Canal Plus said in a statement on Friday that starting from next season, it will completely stop showing Ligue 1 but did not specify whether it will continue to pay according to the existing contract.

The unexpected auction result is the latest turning point for French football since choosing a new broadcaster from 2020 to 2024. The Spanish-Chinese company Mediapro, proved to be catastrophic.

Mediapro stopped making payments and then went bankrupt in just six months, for a period of four years and worth 780 million euros.

This leaves the alliance without a broadcaster, Caught in a legal dispute, And put French clubs under tremendous financial pressure, just like last year’s pandemic brought sports to a halt.

The arrival of Amazon will be regarded by some in Ligue 1 as the savior.

The American technology company has steadily purchased the broadcasting rights of major sports events in the large market, trying to connect viewers with its Prime subscription service. In recent years, it has obtained the right to broadcast National Rugby League matches in the United States and is one of the broadcasters of the Premier League and the British ATP Men’s Tennis Tour.

In France this week, Amazon has been broadcasting the French Open. This is the first time that the event will be broadcast for free on the country’s state-supported TV channels. But Amazon Prime’s night meetings have been plagued by technical issues. As Amazon did not disclose the data, it is not clear what effect it will have on the ratings.

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Alex Green, who is in charge of Amazon’s European sports business, said: “We are very happy to be able to bring every club and the most exciting game” to its Prime video platform.

But the alliance’s choice alienated Canal Plus and could threaten its existing broadcast contract with France’s largest pay-TV operator.

“After the failure of Mediapro’s choice in 2018, Canal+ regrets that LFP decided to choose Amazon instead of its historical partners Canal+ and beIN Sports. [The Qatar-based broadcaster]Therefore, Canal+ will not play Ligue 1,” it said.

Canal Plus may now seek to challenge the terms and procedures of the auction in court. In recent months, it has been pushing the alliance to restart the auction of all TV copyrights from 2021 to 2024, and it has also filed an antitrust complaint to seek to force them to do so. French regulators rejected this effort earlier this week, paving the way for the coalition to hold an auction on Friday.

LFP did not respond to a request for comment.

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