French media company Groupe M6 has secured exclusive free-to-air rights to air world soccer governing body FIFA’s showpiece 2026 and 2030 men's World Cup competitions.

The TV group will air 54 matches from the 104 in total to be played at each edition of the World Cup, with FIFA having opened the tendering process for French media rights to the two World Cups in January 2024.

Matches will be broadcast across the group’s slate of channels, as well as its M6+ streaming service.

M6 is already the broadcaster of European soccer governing body UEFA’s Euro 2024 international competition, as well as its Europa League club competition through the end of the 2023-24 season, and the final of its Champions League competition from 2025-27.

The broadcaster also holds the rights to air matches containing France’s national women’s soccer team through 2027.

David Larramendy, sales and business development executive at M6, stated: “This major investment demonstrates the determination of M6 Group to pursue its development and attract massive audiences on its channels to consolidate its leadership in France.”

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M6 last held rights to broadcast the international competition in 2006, which was its first and only time showing the tournament.

In the time since 2006, M6 competitor TF1 has held the rights to each World Cup, sharing them in different editions with a combination of networks such as public broadcaster France Télévisions, or pay-TV giant BeIN.

M6 has reportedly stumped up in excess of the €130 million ($141 million) that TF1 and BeIN paid for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

TF1, which had held the rights to the FIFA World Cup unbroken since 1978, will now not be showcasing the tournament in 2026 or 2030.

Speaking on French radio, Groupe M6 chief executive Nicolas De Tavernost stated that despite M6 and TF1 often splitting rights to major soccer competitions such as UEFA Euro 2024, which both will broadcast, "our competitor [TF1] did not wish to continue this sharing. We will therefore have exclusive matches.”

M6 can and may still sublicense a slate of games to other broadcasters such as TF1 in order to increase the number of matches from the expanded tournaments available in France, however.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup, set to take place across the US, Mexico, and Canada, will be the first to feature 48 teams and 104 matches, a record tally expanded from the 36-side format that was used at the 2022 edition in Qatar.

The 2022 World Cup achieved massive TV viewership success in France, with the final between France and Argentina generating the country’s highest television audience on record, with an average of 25 million viewers across free-to-air and pay-TV.