Mediapro and BeIN win Ligue 2 rights as fees swell
By Martin Ross
The value of domestic media rights to French soccer’s second-tier Ligue 2 has come close to tripling in four-year agreements announced today with Mediapro, the rights agency that has already secured Ligue 1 rights, and incumbent BeIN Sports, the pay-TV broadcaster.
The LFP, the French professional league, has brought in €64 million ($72.9 million) per season from the sale of the four rights packages to Mediapro and BeIN, nearly three times the annual figure of €22 million committed at present by BeIN and rival Canal Plus.
A sharp increase in value comes as a result of Mediapro seeking to add the content to its recently-acquired rights to the top tier as it sets up a subscription service to showcase the games.
The Spanish rights agency was named this afternoon as the winner of Lot 1, the package comprising live rights to eight Saturday 7pm games per match day, plus a magazine programme (see table below).
BeIN has secured the second and third packages, allowing it to air the Saturday 3pm game and Monday 8.45pm clash, along with the end-of-season play-offs and a trio of magazine shows.
Mediaset’s set of rights is completed by magazine programmes shown between Tuesday and Friday.
The new rights cycle includes a shift of evening matches from Friday to Saturday. Eight Ligue 2 games are currently played at 8pm on Fridays but the remaining fixtures – Saturday at 3pm and Monday at 8.45pm – remain the same during the next cycle.
The proposed changes to the kick-off times have been made possible by freeing up Saturday slots through the addition of more Sunday games in Ligue 1 from 2020-21.
|Ligue 2 domestic rights packages awarded (2020-21 to 2023-24)|
|Lot 1||Eight live matches on Saturday at 7pm and 'Le Tour des Stades' ['Tour of the Stadiums'] magazine show||Mediapro|
|Lot 2||One live match on Saturday at 3pm, promotion/relegation play-offs (between Ligue 1 and 2, and Ligue 2 and National), plus magazine programmes on Saturday and Sunday mornings||BeIN Sports|
|Lot 3||One live match on Monday at 8.45pm and post-match magazine programme on Monday evening||BeIN Sports|
|Lot 4||Magazine shows from Tuesday to Friday||Mediapro|
The LFP said that the new deals “demonstrate the attractiveness of the Domino’s Ligue 2 and are a logical development after the invitation to tender for the Ligue 1 Conforama rights.”
Earlier this year, Mediapro picked up the lion’s share of rights to the top tier as the Spanish rights agency, BeIN and telecoms group Free were awarded the five main packages for a total of €1.153 billion per season, a 59-per-cent uplift on the current rights fees paid by Canal Plus and BeIN.
Having already agreed to pay €780 million per season for the Ligue 1 rights, Mediapro has already spoken of its intention to secure widespread distribution for its “100-per-cent football channel,” which will be priced at around €25 per month. The operation will become profitable when it reaches 4 million subscribers, Mediapro has said.
Canal Plus currently pays an annual sum of around €10 million per season for its Ligue 2 rights, leaving BeIN to commit the remaining €12 million. The Vivendi-owned broadcaster shows the Monday evening game, with the Qatar-backed broadcaster airing the other matches from the second tier.
Despite dropping from nine games a week to two in the next cycle, BeIN Sports France today trumpeted the acquisition of rights to the “two best games from each match day.”
Yousef Al-Obaidly, chief executive of BeIN Media Group and president of BeIN Sports France, said that “in extremely competitive circumstances, BeIN Sports reinforces its investment in the French market and also reaffirms its commitment and drive to consolidate its position as the premium sports broadcaster in the long term.”
Commenting on its Ligue 2 rights won, Mediapro said that it will “produce the match ups and apply the highest quality standards to guarantee top production and open the necessary doors for all fans to be able to follow entire games live.”
Financial first-round bids for the Ligue 2 rights were due at lunchtime today.
The LFP decided to go to market with the rights after Canal Plus’ swoop for Premier League rights created what it called “an intensely competitive environment.”
However, it is thought that neither Canal Plus nor RMC Sport, the Altice-owned subscription broadcaster, lodged financial offers for the rights.
The league was hoping that the rights fees secured would display “significant financial progress” and “in the same proportion to those for Ligue 1.”
Rights to the Coupe de la Ligue, the French league cup tournament, were also on offer but have not been awarded after a modest response. The LFP is now set to hold direct negotiations with interested broadcasters.
Canal Plus currently shows the whole tournament, while public broadcaster France Télévisions offers the top match of each round, from the round of 32 onwards. Those deals are worth a total of €23.9 million per season.
However, France Télévisions has been looking to sell on rights to the competition and the Coupe de France in a cost-cutting exercise.
Speaking last month, Didier Quillot, the LFP’s director general, told L’Equipe: “I am certain about Ligue 2. For the Coupe de la Ligue, given we allow alliances between pay-TV broadcasters and free-to-air, the competitive level is less obvious. But it’s a very good complementary product.”