Opinion: dispute over Ligue 1 media rights should concern the Premier League

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The news that French broadcaster Canal + has returned its press rights to Ligue 1 and has called for a new bidding process could have major ramifications across Europe.

The company was supposed to screen two games per week under the terms of a sublicense agreement with beIN Media, but this has now been canceled.

Canal + President Maxime Saada said Le Figaro that Ligue 1 ‘has been subsidized for many years’ and that ‘no station has managed to make it profitable’.

Saada also argued that since matches involving major clubs like Paris Saint-Germain are more lucrative than other matches, the media rights agreement should reflect this.

“There is only one way to objectively and transparently materialize the market value of Ligue 1, and that is the call for tenders,” he said.

“We are going to offer the LFP a universal technical solution that will allow all French people, Canal + subscribers or not, to follow the games on pay-per-view.

“Of course, Canal + would donate most of the proceeds to the LFP and therefore to the clubs.”

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The latest dispute over media rights follows the collapse of a broadcast deal between Ligue 1 and Spanish multimedia group Mediapro and leaves the clubs facing enormous financial difficulties.

Like other major leagues, the French top flight relies heavily on income from announcers and sponsorships of the main brands.

With other major European leagues seeing their level of streaming revenue declining or declining in value of late, events in France are clearly worrying for football.

Television ad revenue fell about 17 percent in Western Europe last year, which will have a big impact on broadcasters that buy media rights.

The situation in France highlights that the Premier League and other major European competitions may have to master their expectations when the next TV deals are negotiated.

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