SFR Sport have won the exclusive rights to broadcast Champions League and Europa League matches in France from 2018-2021. SFR Sport beat off competition from Canal+ and beIN Sports, and according to Le Monde they will pay €350 million a season for the rights.
If the figures are correct, it is a big increase on the previous deal. Up until now, Canal+ and beIN Sports had been broadcasting the Champions League in France after paying €140 million between them (€90m by beIN Sports, €50m by Canal+) for the rights. The Europa League, meanwhile, was shown on M6, W9 and beIN Sports at a cost of around €20 million.
A source close to Canal+ told Le Monde that they had simply been priced out of the market by SFR Sport. “We are committed to Canal+’s model of sustainability and we cannot go above a certain price,” the source explained. “The Champions League only represents 15 matches a year for Canal+, three or four of which are Paris Saint-Germain.”
Starting next year, both European competitions will be televised by SFR Sport, in a second major coup for the broadcaster after previously winning the exclusive rights to show the Premier League in the 2016-2019 period. Other sports, including Premiership rugby, Diamond League athletics and major boxing matches (such as Joshua-Klitschko) are also shown on their channels.
While it marks considerable progress for SFR Sport, it is not necessarily good news for French football fans given that Canal+ still have the rights to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, while beIN Sports will continue broadcasting Ligue 1, La Liga and the World Cup. As a result, many supporters will now have to subscribe to a third pay-TV broadcaster if they want to watch European football from 2018.