By Stuart Thomson
Amazon is set to make a “credible” offer for the French Ligue 1 football rights that Spanish producer and broadcaster Mediapro was forced to hand back after failing to make the payments it had committed to, according to a report by financial daily Les Echos.
According to the paper, contact between Amazon and the French Professional Football League, the LFP, has intensified in recent days. Les Echos said that some sources had raised the possibility that the tech giant could put €300 million(US$362.89million) a year on the table, although it added the caveat that talk of such numbers could also be part of a negotiating ploy.
The LFP seems likely to face two options: a possible offer from Canal+ in partnership with beIN Sport with Canal+ taking Saturday and Sunday matches and beIN airing the remainder; or a potential offer from Amazon that could be added to the €330 million paid by beIN but now transferred to Canal+ for the second-tier packages, and the €50 paid by Free to retransmit near-live highlights.
The deal with beIN and Canal+, which Canal+ has contested on the ground that the value of rights has changed since the collapse of Mediapro’s deal with the league and the failed re-auction of those rights, is subject to a forthcoming ruling by the country’s competition watchdog. If the regulator, as expected, rules that the deal should stand, Canal+ may still take further action, particularly if Amazon secures the bulk of the rights – 80 per cent of the matches – for less than it is paying for the remaining 20 per cent.
Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada yesterday told the RMC radio station that he was “not certain” that Ligue 1 would be on the pay TV channel next year. He said that if Amazon acquired Mediapro’s rights for an amount that “we consider discriminatory in relation to what we are paying”, then Canal+ would take action to protect its rights.
Amazon had participated in the abandoned bidding round for the rights that took place earlier this year, which was boycotted by Canal+, but is not believed to have submitted a significant offer.