French football expands on TV

The French Championship of League 1, one of the highest profile football leagues in Europe, began at the start of August. A few weeks earlier, the LPF (the professional football league) sold the various lots of football rights for the competitions, with the result that more television channels and more broadcasts are expected.

If Canal Plus, the long time broadcaster of the sport since 1984, gets the lion’s share* as usual, a newcomer, Al Jazeera, has entered the French audiovisual market. The Qatari broadcaster has secured the rights to two matches per week and intends to set up a new sports channel in France by January 2012, recruiting Charles Bietry for the job. He was the former sports media manager for Canal + and programme editor of L’Equipe TV, and rumours are now spreading of a possible merger/takeover of Orange Sport.

But League 1 is not the only league to hit the headlines in France at the moment.

Since July 28, CFoot, the new encrypted channel launched by LPF, is taking an active interest in League 2 for which Eurosport used to have the sole television rights until now.

And the sports channel of the TF1 group, which broadcasted the FIFA Women’s World Cup, is now showing a new interest in the Division 1 ladies football league, which is a first – there had never been any wide coverage of the women’s game so far. Eurosport, along with France Television, has agreed to broadcast eleven matches as well as regular news magazines. To do so, the two have paid €110,000 for the privilege and have elbowed out Direct8. The generalist, free-to-air DVB-T broadcaster was also interested in covering the league, but for a few matches only. It will, however, continue to broadcast some sporting events of the French team.

The good audience ratings of the Women’s World Cup (due to the bright performance of the Blues finishing fourth) definitely seem to have given some people new ideas…

* Canal+ has agreed to pay €420m to obtain the best images of the championships to be broadcasted on Friday at 21.00, Saturday at 17.00 and Sunday at 14.00 and for several other news magazines as well.

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