France opens football bidding early
March 14, 2014
By Chris Forrester
France’s Professional Football League (LFP) has brought forward by a year the bidding process for TV exclusivity for the 2016-2020 seasons. The bidding will start in April, one year earlier than expected.
This extremely short notice doesn’t help either of the two anticipated big bidders: Canal Plus because of uncertainty over its own ownership plans, or Al Jazeera’s beIN Sports operation, and anxieties over Al Jazeera’s coverage with neighbours Saudi Arabia because of political tensions between Al Jazeera’s Qatari backers, and Saudi Arabia.
Currently the rights are shared with Canal+ airing two top games each week, and beIN Sports carrying the other 8 top games.
Enders Analysis, in a note to clients, says: “ The LFP rights are precisely packaged to prevent this, and to force the two to compete at least for one lot. As the market leader Canal+ has more to lose, while beIN Sports could sustain its current complementary positioning with fewer games.”
However, other potential bidders could also emerge. Top of the list is sports rights agency MP & Silva, who have been aggressive in mopping up exclusive rights which they then parcel out to the highest bidders. MP & Silva have more than 10,000 hours of contracted rights including a ton of soccer exclusivities. For example they already manage the Belgian Jupiler Pro-League, international rights for Brazilian football, rights for certain Greek overseas sales.