Canal Plus gets green light to tweak Saturday Ligue 1 kick-off slot
Matches from French soccer's Ligue 1 will kick off at 5.30pm (CET) on Saturday afternoons next season, half an hour later than has traditionally been the case, following a request from rights-holder Canal Plus, the pay-television broadcaster.
The board of directors of the LFP, the French professional soccer league, said it had agreed to the switch for that particular kick-off slot for the 2019-20 season, the last year of the present rights contracts.
BeIN Sports, the pay-TV rival and fellow Ligue 1 rights-holder, also agreed to Canal Plus' request.
At present, Canal Plus shows the top three Ligue 1 matches per week as part of its four-year deal, worth €540-million ($611.35- million) per season, while BeIN shows the fourth to 10th choice matches each week, for which it pays around €160 million per season.
The LFP had already tweaked the Ligue 1 calendar from 2016-17, when the present rights cycle began, with the Friday evening and Sunday evening games taking place at 8.45pm (CET), instead of 8.30pm and 9pm respectively. The LFP said that this change had been made to give the games a greater visibility and to provide a more favourable kick-off time on Sunday evenings to encourage higher attendances.
The first Sunday afternoon game was also moved back one hour, to 3pm.
The 2019-20 season will be Canal Plus' last as a Ligue 1 rights-holder, with BeIN and Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights agency, having landed the major domestic broadcast rights packages from 2020-21 to 2023-24 in a deal worth €1.153 billion per season, a 59-per-cent rise on the current agreements.
For the next contract period, the LFP has introduced a Sunday 1pm kick-off slot in order to appeal to an audience in Asia. A match will also take place on Saturdays in the 9pm prime-time slot, and there will be a 'multiplex' of four games at 3pm on Sundays.
At present, a 5pm Saturday game is still planned for the 2020-21 season onwards.