SFR packages sports channels with those of BeIN in non-exclusive carriage deal
BeIN Sports, the pay-TV broadcaster, and SFR, the Altice-owned French telecoms operator that holds live Premier League rights, have agreed a non-exclusive distribution agreement that allows the sports channels of both broadcasters to be packaged together.
Under the tie-up, the BeIN Sports and SFR Sport channels are available for €29.99 ($34) per month for the first 12 months as part of SFR's ‘Box Power’ package, before a tariff of €54.98 kicks in.
The agreement between BeIN and SFR comes as the Qatar-backed broadcaster looks to finalise various non-exclusive carriage agreements with operators in France after the competition authority blocked its proposed five-year exclusive distribution agreement with rival Canal Plus.
SFR, one of the operators to voice strong opposition to the BeIN-Canal alliance, has announced that its subscribers will be able to access all 10 BeIN Sports channels and “multi-sports services” in high definition if they sign up to the Box Power offering.
Sports rights properties held by BeIN Sports in France include French soccer’s Ligue 1, the Uefa Champions League, the NBA, tennis’ ATP World Tour and France’s top-tier handball league.
Canal Plus’ equivalent sports rights package includes its own premium channels, those of BeIN Sports and Eurosport, and costs €35 per month for the first year, and then €59.90 per month thereafter.
SFR is also offering its ‘Box Starter’ subscription that includes the new SFR Sport channels and is priced at €19.99 per month for the first 12 months, and then €44.98 per month.
Altice’s headline rights swoop in France has been its three-year Premier League deal worth upwards of €115 million per season from this campaign onwards, with games aired on SFR Sport1.
Other properties secured by Altice in France include English rugby union’s Aviva Premiership (from 2015-16 to 2019-20), gymnastics’ World Championships (until 2024) and France’s top two basketball divisions (until 2020).
BeIN is also set to finalise non-exclusive carriage agreements with other operators in France, including the likes of Canal Plus’ CanalSat platform and Orange, in deals set to run for three or four years.
In February, Canal and BeIN agreed their (ultimately annulled) exclusive deal, said to be worth some €300 million per year, under which the BeIN channels would be carried by Canal Plus and Vivendi, its owner, would have an option to take a minority stake in BeIN Sports’ French operation at the end of the five years.
The blocking of the proposal was a setback to Canal Plus as a tie-up with BeIN Sports was seen as a means of reducing losses at its pay-TV channels in France that amounted to €264 million in 2015, while the proceeds of the deal would also have proved valuable to BeIN in its bid to stem losses in the French market.
BeIN Sports surpassed the 3-million subscriber mark during the recent 2016 Uefa European Championships, for which BeIN held the rights to all 51 games.
The CSA, France’s broadcast regulator, was critical of the proposed BeIN-Canal tie-up ultimately rejected by the competition watchdog, highlighting concerns over the knock-on effect on free-to-air broadcasters and telecoms operators that offer subscription television services, including the likes of SFR, Orange and Free.
Altice has launched five new sports channels in France adopting the SFR brand name, replacing the channels that formed part of the Ma Chaîne Sport TV group, and recently picked up exclusive rights to Portugal’s top-tier Liga NOS.
The SFR Sport channels are currently only available on the platforms of SFR and (the SFR-owned) Numéricable.