• May 29, 2018: Mediapro becomes the main broadcaster of French football
The Sino-Spanish group Mediapro wins three lots in the TV rights auction organized by the Professional Football League (LFP). It is therefore agreed that it will broadcast the matches of Friday 9 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m., the Sunday multiplex at 3 p.m. and the Sunday match at 9 p.m., over the period 2020-2024. In return, the broadcaster will have to pay the LFP 780 million euros per year for Ligue 1, and 34 million euros for Ligue 2.
By adding the amounts owed by BeInSport, and Free for smaller lots, TV rights reached 1.153 billion euros, a record, and an increase of nearly 60% compared to the previous contract. A “turning” who “confirms the international dimension of French football and the global dimension of the attractiveness of our sport”, congratulated the League.
• August 21, 2020: Téléfoot opens its branch
Mediapro has entered into a partnership with TF1 for the creation of the Téléfoot channel, named after the iconic Sunday morning show. And beyond the name of the brand, the two groups share their means of production as well as their “talents”, such as Gregory Margotton and Bixente Lizarazu to match comments. Téléfoot therefore opens its antenna on August 21, 2020, for the first day of Ligue 1.
However, with a subscription of € 25.90 per month, the channel does not manage to attract the 3.5 million subscribers hoped to achieve financial balance. According to L’Equipe, Téléfoot has only 480,000 subscribers, 200,000 of whom have opted for the joint offer with RMC Sport following an agreement with SFR. An agreement that allows Mediapro to broadcast the European cups without owing anything to SFR, which is the holder, but in return, the operator recovers all of the income related to subscriptions to the RMC Sport-Téléfoot coupled offer . Around 40% of Téléfoot subscribers therefore do not report anything to Mediapro.
• October 5, 2020: Mediapro does not settle its deadline at the League and wants to “renegotiate the price”
While the first installment of August 5 had been paid on time by Mediapro to the League, the second, amounting to 172.3 million euros, never landed in the coffers of the LFP. In the newspaper L’Equipe of October 8, Jaume Roures, the boss of the group, says: “We want to discuss this season’s contract again”, citing the health crisis that would disrupt its activity. According to L’Equipe still, Mediapro would like a rebate of 170 to 200 million euros this season, on the more than 800 million euros that the group owes to the League, a proposal refused by the LFP. Consequently, Mediapro seized the commercial court of Nanterre to force the League to negotiate, within the framework of a “conciliation”.
• December 5, 2020: a second unpaid due date
As in October, Mediapro does not pay its December deadline, amounting to 152 million euros, to the League. The authority therefore finds itself with nearly 350,000 euros unpaid. In October, she took out a loan of 112 million euros to pay the clubs their shares of TV rights and not put them in financial difficulty.
• December 11, 2020: the League terminates the contract
The League decides to terminate the contract binding it with Mediapro. The CEO of the group announces the upcoming closure of the Téléfoot channel to its employees. The precise calendar has not leaked. After two months of conflict, it is the end of the soap opera between the two parties. The output of the failing Sino-Spanish broadcaster was approved by the Nanterre commercial court on December 22. The LFP, which should probably recover its broadcasting rights by February, is looking for another solvent broadcaster. Canal + was, according to all observers, in pole position.
• January 12, 2021: Canal + restores its rights
In an interview published by Le Figaro, the boss of Canal +, Maxime Saada, announced against all expectations that the encrypted channel will return to the LFP, from next February 5, the two Ligue 1 matches of Saturday 9 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m. According to him, Ligue 1 has lost too much value: “We finally came to the conclusion on the Canal + side that it was in the interest of all stakeholders to go through a call for tenders. We therefore sent a letter to the LFP to inform them of the return of lot 3 that BeIN Sports has sub-licensed us “, he explains.
Before continuing: “Broadcasting on Téléfoot has greatly reduced the exposure of the competition. (…) In addition, the arrival of Mediapro has contributed to the exponential growth of piracy. (…) The value of Ligue 1 has also fallen for Canal + “. While waiting for a new call for tenders, he says he wants to offer the LFP a “universal technical solution to follow matches in pay per view (pay per match)”.