The LFP, French soccer's top-tier league structure, will extend the tender process for domestic media rights to the top-tier Ligue 1, whilst postponing the tender for the second-tier Ligue 2 after its reserve prices for the competitions were not met by today’s (October 17) deadline.

The body initially tendered the rights to both leagues over the next cycle concerning the 2024-25 season through to the end of the 2028-29 season on September 13 after being granted permission by the French government to extend the length of the contracts from four to five campaigns.

However, the LFP has announced that none of the five bidding lots for rights had been assigned by the deadline, with all bids having failed to meet the provisions of the deal.

This has led to the LFP postponing the rights search for Ligue 2, thus offering Ligue 1 individually to garner greater interest.

The LFP was hopeful that the increased five-year contract length would attract bids of more value than its high reserve prices for the two main packages of live Ligue 1 rights which stood at €530 million ($557.3 million) and €270 million per season, respectively.

If those prices were reached, then the main package price would have increased incrementally by €10 million per season, and the second package by €5 million.

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That none of the five lots met the reserve price indicates that the prospective rightsholders have a significant difference in the valuation of the product to the LFP.

In a statement, the French league body said: “After having received several qualitative offers and financial guarantee schemes for all lots one to five, LFP Media indicates that none of the five lots has been awarded today, in accordance with the provisions of the Ligue 1 call for applications.

“As a result, LFP Media is continuing its process of marketing Ligue 1 rights and is also postponing its call for Ligue 2 applications.”

The main Ligue 1 rights package includes exclusive rights to the first and second-pick fixtures each match week, as well as co-exclusive rights to the fourth-pick match. The second package, meanwhile, includes six weekly matches, as well as the play-offs and the annual Trophée de Champions match.

The reserve prices for the two main second-tier Ligue 2 rights packages, meanwhile, stand at €26 million and €14 million. The governing body has also set €28 million per season as the price for its five magazine-style and highlights programs across the two divisions starting in the 2024-25 season.

Together, the LFP was hoping to reel in more than €840 million per season for most of its domestic rights from 2024-25.

LPF’s fee target for the main Ligue 1 rights for year one of the new cycle marks a significant increase from the last cycle, despite the loss of marquee players such as Lionel Messi and Neymar from league champions Paris Saint-Germain.

For the current cycle, global tech and retail giant Amazon pays €250 million per year to show eight matches per week, through its Prime Video streaming service, while pay-TV heavyweight Canal Plus pays €332 million annually for two matches.

Telecoms firm Free holds near-live rights to all 10 matches for €42 million. However, this rights package has now been scrapped and built into the other Ligue 1 options for the next cycle.

Amazon snapped up the bulk of existing rights at a cut price before the 2020-21 season after the LFP’s lucrative contract with Spanish production firm Mediapro collapsed in December 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Mediapro’s four-year deal to show eight games was worth €780 million per annum.

Canal Plus, meanwhile, has a sub-licensing deal with international pay-TV giant BeIN Sports for its two weekly matches.

The major French broadcaster did not participate in the tender for the next Ligue 1 domestic media rights cycle.

However, with the LFP now entering private negotiations, Canal Plus could potentially discuss a deal with the league.

If Canal Plus does not secure an agreement, it will mark the first time since the formation of the broadcaster in 1984 that the network will not air Ligue 1.

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 also marks the latest action in the long-running dispute between the LFP and Canal Plus over Ligue 1 media rights.

Canal Plus has been defeated in court several times over Amazon picking its rights up at cut-price and rival BeIN sub-licensing Canal’s own rights at cost-price.

This is the LFP’s first broadcast rights sales process since agreeing a commercial partnership with private equity group CVC Capital Partners last year.

Through the tie-up, CVC acquired a 13% stake worth €1.5 billion in a media rights subsidiary set up by the LFP – LFP Media – that will market the TV and online broadcast rights for Ligue 1.

In an interview with L’Equipe in June, LFP president Vincent Labrune said the league is seeking a total of €1 billion for its domestic and international media rights.

However, both Canal Plus and Mediapro have publicly questioned whether the LFP can bring in deals worth €1 billion per year through its rights sales.

The LFP recently launched a tender for international media rights to the country’s top two divisions, as well as its annual Trophée de Champions, covering either three or five seasons.

A deadline of November 2 has been set for bids.