Saturday, January 18, 2020

New luxury product, football makes crazy chains

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It is a hard drug, which costs a fortune to private television channels. Channels that, even accumulating losses on investment, come back to ask for their dose at each call for tenders, as demented or the price requested by the organizers of the competitions. This drug is high-level football, and more specifically club football, a historically important call product for the channels, but which, with the stratospheric inflation of broadcasting rights, has become a luxury product. Not to say an unreasonable investment in purely accounting terms.

In this landscape, fans who can not or do not want to pay subscriptions can vibrate before meetings involving national selections that are still visible – but for how long? – on free channels like TF1, M6 or the channel L'Equipe. Club football has become so expensive that the days when the entire TV football offer was visible on two pay channels and a free channel is over. This complicates the decisions of fans amateur round, now obliged to multiply subscriptions, if they want nothing to miss the French League 1, the English Premier League, the Spanish Liga, the Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga and, of course, the prestigious Champions League.

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To follow all this, a subscription is not enough. We must pay Canal +, BeIN Sports, RMC Sport, without forgetting the Spanish group Mediapro, a new entrant in the field, who has obtained the rights of Ligue 1 for the period 2020-2024.

Ligue 1, major call product

The surprise arrival of this fourth actor is all the more disturbing as he has seized the real nugget. Because if the Champions League is an important product, the Ligue 1 remains the major appeal product to retain subscribers. As Philippe Bailly, founder of NPA Conseil, a consulting firm on digital transformation, recalls: "The most strategic football rights are those of Ligue 1. The Champions League is a prestigious competition, but is not an absolute necessity for the chains. Ligue 1 is a soap opera that builds loyalty from August to the end of May. "

Read also TV rights: M6 and TF1 will broadcast the Euro 2020 football

In other words, people are more attached to a national club, even if the posters of Ligue 1 are often disappointing in terms of show and dramaturgy compared to a prestigious poster of the Champions League not involving French clubs. Moreover, since 2015, the date of the broadcast of the Champions League on RMC Sport, audiences are down. First, because at a certain level, French clubs disappear. But especially because many amateurs, already subscribers to Canal + and / or BeIN sports, have not skipped the pace of a subscription to RMC Sport.

The return announced Friday, November 29, the Champions League on the antennas of Canal + and BeIN, from 2021 to 2024, may perhaps allow to find more satisfactory audiences.

Nobody draws lessons from failures

In the early 2000s, Martin Bouygues had an illuminating formula concerning the auction in the world of telecom. A formula that adapts perfectly to the war that the chains give themselves to afford the football: "Do not enter the competition is sudden death. To enter it is to prefer slow death. " That's the problem: buying more and more expensive broadcast rights can no longer be a winner in financial terms.

Read also Canal + and BeIN Sports win the UEFA Champions League broadcast rights

But no one learns from past failures, be it TPS in 2006, Orange throwing in the towel in 2012, or more recent losses by BeIN, then Altice, owner of RMC Sport.

For an audiovisual group, football is too expensive, it's a fact. But not to propose football, it is to disappear from the film. The problem is that each obtaining of rights represents a victory not only ruinous, but especially ephemeral, since every three or four years, the rights of the competitions are brought into play.

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