Amazon Snaps Up French Soccer Rights, Prompting Canal Plus Pull Out in Protest

Amazon has snapped up the bulk of French soccer rights for the league’s two top divisions for 2021-24, prompting pandemonium with French pay TV group Canal Plus backing out of its deal for a smaller package of League 1 matches in protest.

Canal Plus backing out is a big deal because the paybox is believed to have accounted for an estimated €330 million ($400 million), according to French media reports, or roughly half what the league ended up making in total for the TV rights’ package, even though the paybox was getting less rights than Amazon in return.

“This decision, taken unanimously by the board of directors minus one abstention, will allow French football to benefit from the arrival of a new major player, Amazon,” French league president Vincent Labrune said in a statement.

French media estimate the new combined soccer rights package was being sold by the league for a total of €663 million, which is a lot less than the amount that caused an earlier 2020-24 rights deal to collapse after Spain’s Mediapro could not afford to pay, which prompted the rights to be put back on the market.

“After the failure of the choice of Mediapro in 2018, Canal Plus regrets the decision of the Professional Football League (LFP) to retain Amazon’s proposal today to the detriment of that of its historical partners CANAL + and beIN Sports,” Canal Plus said in a statement.

“Canal Plus will therefore not broadcast League 1,” it added.

The Canal Plus statement went on to note that the paybox still has what it deems a strong sports offering comprising European Champions League and Supercup matches, the U.K.’s Premier League soccer and Formula 1 auto racing.

While it remains unclear where the exit of Canal Plus now leaves the French soccer league, what’s sure is that the price of soccer rights in France is going down.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.

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