French pay-TV giant Canal Plus has told the LFP, the French soccer league’s governing body, that it will not be participating in the tender for the next domestic media rights cycle for the top-tier Ligue 1.
Canal Plus informed the LFP today (September 25) that the company would not seek to obtain the rights to broadcast the league in the 2024-29 cycle.
This will mark the first time since the formation of Canal Plus in 1984 that the network will not air Ligue 1.
The Ligue 1 media rights tender was released earlier this month, however, the potential for this to happen has been known since June 2021, when the company initially announced its intention to divest from Ligue 1, this has now been made official.
This marks the latest action in the long-running dispute between the LFP and Canal Plus over Ligue 1 media rights.
In June 2021, Canal Plus held the rights to showcase two Ligue 1 matches per week at a €332 million ($352.3 million) annual cost.
At that time the beleaguered Mediapro, who had held the rights to the division’s other eight weekly matches, was forced to terminate its agreement to do so as the company battled insolvency.
In the fallout, the LFP awarded streaming service Prime Video the rights to an eight-match slate formerly held by Mediapro for €250 million annually, a large fall from the €780 million per annum that Mediapro was meant to pay. Canal Plus at the same time had sublicensed its own games out to pay-TV rival BeIN.
Before Amazon secured the eight weekly games, it was expected that Canal Plus would successfully negotiate an agreement with the LFP – however, this turned out not to be the case, and BeIN then snapped up Canal Plus’ two weekly matches at cost price.
Canal Plus subsequently attempted to terminate the sublicensing deal but failed to do so after BeIN defeated it in court after the LFP intervened on the side of BeIN.
Canal Plus was, as such, ordered to fulfill its sub-licensing deal with BeIN or be fined €1.5 million per day for any delay or violation, under the terms of the February 2020 agreement between the two broadcasters.
Since then, Canal Plus has continued to dispute the court rulings, losing multiple court cases against the LFP, who it claims abused its dominant position during the media rights negotiations.
As such, the broadcaster will continue after this season without the rights to any Ligue 1 games.
The network will however air the UEFA Champions League and English Premier League games in France for the next rights cycle, having acquired the rights to both competitions through the 2026-27 and 2027-28 seasons respectively.
The pay-TV heavyweight retained its rights to provide exclusive coverage of the Premier League in France, Switzerland (French language only), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Vietnam last week.