SFR lands Champions League in shock for beIN, Canal+

France’s SFR has won exclusive rights to Uefa Champions League and Europa League football from the 2018-19 season beating off incumbents beIN Sports and Canal Plus.

Sports newspaper L’Équipe reports SFR Sport will pay €350 million per season for the rights, which will run to 2020-21 seasons of both competitions. In a statement beIN said: “beIN Sports has been informed of Uefa’s decision to award the exclusive rights of the Uefa Champions League and the Uefa Europa League to another operator from the summer 2018. beIN is disappointed and surprised by this decision from Uefa and has concerns about this process.”

Champions League rights in the current cycle, from 2015-16 to 2017-18, are currently split between beIN and Canal Plus. Europa League rights are split between beIN and commercial broadcaster W9.The price has significantly grown since previous deals gauged at €160 million per year  for both competitions on the French market. SFR had previously spent more than €100 million a year to get the Premier League.

At Canal+ this will be a  bitter pill as this SFR victory looks like one for former CEO Bertrand Meheut who joined the operator as administrator last November.To beIN Sports too it is also a big loss. European competitions are considered as a key element of its programming and this could decrease the attractivity of a bouquet that lost more than €1 billion between 2012 and 2015.

These acquisitions of sport rights are a new critical step in Altice’s strategy. In the last two years in France, Altice has acquired the main sports rights available on the market: English Premier League, Portuguese Football Championship, French Basketball, English Rugby, Athletics, Boxing, Skiing, Tennis.

Michel Combes, Altice CEO, commented: “We are very excited to have entered into this new and long-term partnership with UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, the world’s best football club competitions. Aquiring the rights to the UEFA Champions League and to UEFA Europa League is one of the main steps for Altice’s global and French strategy to provide the best exclusive content. This move underlines Altice’s ambition to continue to invest in the most powerful programs that bring together the largest audiences. The convergence of our telecom assets with media, content and advertising is core to our long term industrial and commercial project. We will continue to strive in each of our operations to offer our customers a unique experience and deliver them excellence everywhere.”

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