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Mediapro ‘agrees Champions League, Téléfoot carriage deals’ with Altice

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Kylian Mbappe of PSG celebrates his goal during the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between Liverpool FC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Anfield on September 18, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Spanish agency and production group Mediapro has reportedly reached an agreement with telco Altice to co-broadcast Uefa club competitions next season in France, and allow Altice’s SFR platform to distribute the agency’s new Téléfoot channel without paying a minimum guarantee.

Mediapro would pay half of Altice’s €350m ($405m) outlay on the Champions League and Europa League for 2020-21 under the deal, which is yet to be finalised, according to local newspaper Les Echos.

Another outlet, L’Équipe, reported negotiations could be completed early this week.

The deal would substantially boost the attractiveness of Mediapro’s Téléfoot offer in its first season. The agency is launching Téléfoot on the back of its €780m-per-season acquisition of the bulk of Ligue 1 broadcast rights from 2020-21 to 2023-24.

Les Echos reported that Mediapro is planning to charge a monthly subscription of €29.99 for the augmented content. This fee would fall to €25.99 per month where customers enter into a one-year commitment.

The agency had previously suggested it would charge a flat fee of €25 per month for the channel. Industry observers had said this price target was too high for its existing portfolio which, in addition to Ligue 1, includes Ligue 2 (for the 2020-24 cycle) and the Europa League/Europa Conference League (for the 2021-24 cycle).

The agency is aiming to attract 3.5 million subscribers to Téléfoot. The new French season is scheduled to start on August 21.

SFR distribution

SFR would be the first linear distributor Mediapro has found for Téléfoot. Its carriage discussions with traditional distributors have been complicated by the latter’s reluctance to pay a minimum guarantee for the channel.

The agency was thought to be seeking non-exclusive carriage deals with minimum guarantees of €100m per season from each linear distributor. The main distribution platforms in France are pay-television operator Canal Plus and telcos Orange, Bouygues Telecom, Free, and SFR.

Negotiations with Free and Orange “have advanced little”, L’Équipe said last week, while those with Canal Plus were said to have reached a stalemate.

The reported Uefa club competitions rights-sharing deal between Mediapro and Altice would be a way of surmounting the obstacle of the minimum guarantee.

Altice is no stranger to such deals as it already has a rights-sharing agreement in place with pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus for the English Premier League for the 2019-22 cycle, in which it pays half of Canal’s annual rights-fee outlay.

It is understood Canal Plus was also interested in acquiring next season’s Uefa club competitions rights from Altice. Canal Plus already holds these rights from the 2021-22 season alongside beIN (for the Champions League) and Mediapro (for the Europa League and new third-tier Europa Conference League).

Facebook ‘deal’

Mediapro’s reported carriage deal with SFR follows reports last week that the agency had agreed Téléfoot distribution with social-media giant Facebook.

Mediapro’s head of French operations, Julien Bergeaud, said early this year the agency was in distribution talks with the ‘GAFA’ technology giants (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) as well as traditional distributors.

But any deal would not involve Facebook paying a fee for Mediapro’s content, the platform told SportBusiness.

It said: “We are not discussing a paid content deal with Mediapro in France. We have regular talks with all our partners, including Mediapro, on how best to use our products to distribute content. More often than not, these discussions do not involve any financial commitments.”

Facebook has a strategy of agreeing such ‘broadcast partnerships’ with sports rights-holders. It has such deals with the International Cricket Council, the South American football confederation Conmebol and basketball’s NBA. They are designed to help rights-holders build value for their properties by using Facebook’s infrastructure to showcase video content.