BeIN to kick off Ligue 1 international rights sales for 2018-19 onwards
BeIN Media Group, the international pay-TV broadcaster, is primed to begin discussions over the sale of Ligue 1 rights to broadcasters or agencies for the 2018-19 to 2020-21 cycle.
As the international rights partner of the LFP, the French professional league, in a minimum guarantee deal worth €80 million ($94.7 million) per season, BeIN is going to market with the rights, and is expected to issue invitations to tender in at least three key markets.
Those markets include Brazil and Latin America, where the popularity of the French top flight has surged since the arrival of Brazilian star Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record transfer deal in the summer.
An invitation to tender is also set to be launched in sub-Saharan Africa, while direct negotiations are likely to take place in the remaining international markets as BeIN seeks to adopt more of an in-house sales model and work closer with the LFP during this cycle.
BeIN first landed the Ligue 1 international rights in 2012-13, replacing previous rights distributor Canal Plus Events, and turned to the MP & Silva agency to sell rights in several markets.
MP & Silva is currently responsible for sales in Europe (excluding Spain and Turkey), the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) and sub-Saharan Africa.
While the focus of BeIN, which has strengthened its distribution team, appears to be on landing Ligue 1 deals directly with broadcasters, it remains open to agreements with agencies in certain markets. Along with MP & Silva, rival IMG would be a potential candidate given it has just secured Serie A international rights and could look to derive more value by selling those together with the French league in some countries.
As part of the in-house drive, BeIN is set to offer bespoke content to broadcasters and package them together with the rights, with Brazil an obvious candidate given the interest around Neymar.
SporTV, the Globosat-owned cable sports broadcaster, and ESPN Brasil, the pay-TV broadcaster, are the incumbent rights-holders in Brazil, where ratings have soared since Neymar’s arrival.
ESPN, DirecTV and Televisa Deportes are all incumbent Ligue 1 rights-holders in Latin America, and deals are in place in sub-Saharan Africa with Canal Plus, Fox Sports, StarTimes and TV5.
BeIN is expected to retain exclusive rights to showcase coverage on its channels in various markets, which include the Middle East and North Africa, Spain, Turkey, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
However, the sale of non-exclusive rights in BeIN’s territories has not been completely excluded, with the US market thought to have been earmarked.
BeIN is going to market offering the rights for three seasons (to 2020-21), although, as the Ligue 1 international rights-holder until 2023-24, six-season deals appear to remain a possibility if the buyers are willing to dig deep.
BeIN’s €80-million-per-season international rights agreement with the LFP represented a huge 146-per-cent increase on the average of €32.5 million per season paid by the broadcaster under its previous agreement.
The deal was widely praised at the time of its announcement in the middle of 2014, but the Ligue 1 international rights income has since been dwarfed by the sums accrued by the other ‘big four’ European leagues, in part due to inflated spending in China (which is now receding given government curbs), and the LFP has already unveiled plans to close the gap on its rivals.
The LFP could derive more from the forthcoming cycle given its contract with BeIN does include a revenue share agreement, but only once a certain percentage over and above the minimum guarantee has gone to BeIN.