BeIN Sports France, the pay-television broadcaster, has extended its domestic rights deal with the LNH, the country’s top handball league, until 2026.

The existing agreement between the two parties was not due to end until 2023 but the broadcaster has opted for an early renewal and a longer-term commitment to the league.

The renewed deal will run for an additional three seasons.

BeIN has shown action from the LNH to a domestic French audience exclusively since 2014 when it replaced rival Canal Plus.

Last year, however, BeIN announced a drop-off in its linear television coverage of the LNH to three matches per weekend round of the competition – one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It also shows two matches, one each on Tuesday and Wednesday, whenever a weekday round is scheduled. 

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The pay-TV operator will continue with this coverage format under the new contract and show games on its main linear channels.

Other games will be available on the LNH’s streaming platform.

BeIN’s announcement last year represented a significant decrease from the number of live LNH games it originally said it would show, when the broadcaster signed its previous four-year rights deal with the league in February 2019. 

It was originally paying €4 million ($4.6 million) per season for the rights, but the last agreement was reported to be worth more, considering that all league games were included in the package for the first time. 

After signing the 2019 deal, BeIN’s contract said it would show every match live – 182 in total – from the league, up from 52 in the previous cycle, until 2023. 

BeIN had stated that the new coverage schedule came as a result of "a significant change in international sporting calendars … and a health crisis (the coronavirus pandemic) with many consequences".

In the present contract, the 30 LNH clubs have the option of producing live streaming of all non-televised fixtures through their own online and digital platforms in addition to broadcast coverage. 

As well as its deal with the LNH, BeIN holds domestic rights to matches of the French men’s and women’s national handball teams until 2022.

David Tebib, president of the LNH, said: “In a world of sport where TV rights agreements are frequently called into question, the extension of our agreement is a formidable signal. 

“It provides professional men's handball with the visibility it needs to continue and accelerate its development. 

“With our official broadcaster, we can see the future in a big way, and work in close consultation on the possible creation of a common OTT offer, in order to guarantee fans an ever-richer first-hand experience, adapted to changes in the consumption of sport in the media."