TV Rights Rugby BeIN Sport Challenges Canal + On His Land

The National Rugby League is to terminate the contract that bound to Canal +. It launches a new tender for the dissemination of the Top 14.

The battle for TV rights of the Top 14 looks muscular between beIN Sport, the challenger, and Canal +, the current broadcaster. The national rugby online organizer (NRL), the championship of France, has indeed put into play the matches broadcast Monday night, denouncing the exclusive contract that bound 2016 Canal + and launching Thursday 5 December at the latest, a tender for the distribution in France for the next four seasons from 2014-2015.

Toulouse's winger Yves Donguy (c) is tackled by opponents during the French Top 14 rugby union match Toulouse vs Oyonnax on November 23, 2013 at the Ernest-Wallon Stadium in Toulouse, southern France.    AFP PHOTO PASCAL PAVANI

Interested broadcasters must reply before January 13. League will decide within two days. “This decision was carefully considered, it is not a gamble, says Paul Goze , the President of the NRL. It is a risk, as each time there is a decision to break or change. Here, the change is now.”

With this direct competition, the League wants to raise the stakes and win the jackpot. Currently, the rights of the Top 14, renegotiated in 2011, amounted to € 31.7 million per season. An amount considered too low by many of the leaders of rugby club, who hoped to 100 million in 2011. Lack of competition with the removal ‘of Orange , the NRL had reluctantly agreed to the proposal from the encrypted string. A blow that had sealed the balance sheet of its former President, Pierre-Yves Revol .

This time, with the arrival of beIN Sport-which has already invested € 400 million in television rights in sport, including 150 million in the Ligue 1 football – the balance of power is reversed. And Canal + is well aware: just before falling the decision of the leaders of the League, the chain had yet proposed to double the amount of TV rights by putting on the table about 60 million per season. Not enough, obviously. “The proposed Canal + appeared insufficient compared to what we could expect from our partner for 20 years, ‘says Paul Goze.

Up To € 80 Million

NRL intends to increase prices. “The context is favorable to a strong increase in fees,” says Christophe Lepetit, sports economist at the Centre for law and economics of sport. First, because, for several months, beIN engaged in a strategy of diversifying its programs, call multiplies the foot in the direction of rugby, the sport more media in France after football. “This is an attractive product for pay television, if the tender is launched, we can not ignore,” made ​​it clear to Figaro Yousef al-Obaidly, the Director General of the Qatari sports channel . According to sources, beIN Sport would be willing to pay up to € 80 million for the rights of the Top 14.

The tender will include several lots. “If he wants exclusivity, a broadcaster can not make a comprehensive offer, he must bid on each lot,” says Christophe Lepetit. “Everything is open: exclusive to one or the other, a mixture of several broadcasters,” said Paul Goze.

Canal + , which has already suffered the brunt of the arrival of Bein Sport in football’s interest to retain for its five million subscribers, a sport he helped develop from the beginning of professionalism. Opposite its competitor which currently has 1.5 million subscribers, thinks attract 500,000 more by focusing on the oval ball.

Some, however, fear less exposure on beIN Sport, which would impact future negotiations directly clubs with their sponsors. An argument swept by Paul Goze: “Studies that have been done show that in terms of visibility in the coming years, there will not be a large difference we want to say.”