Canal Plus Renew Deal with French Top 14 for USD228m

May 12, 2011

Canal Plus, the leading French Pay-TV channel has secured a five-year renewal of its contract with the French National Rugby League (LNR) to keep the broadcast rights of nation’s elite club rugby competition, the Top 14, in a deal worth up to US$228m.

Canal Plus will show at least three pre-recorded matches in each Top 14 gameweek – one on Canal + and two on Canal + Sport – with the remaining four games shown on the Rugby + channel and two highlights shows featuring all the action permitted in a continuation of their existing agreement.

Canal Plus will pay the LNR a minimum initial fee of US$39m a year under the terms of the contract, however, this could rise to as much as US$45.5m depending on viewership and subscriber numbers. The agreement runs for five years, commencing from the 2011/12 season.

Despite these high figures, the new deal marks a slight decrease on the current Top 14 broadcast rights package in terms of maximum revenue potential. The broadcaster are believed to be paying approximately US$42.6m under the current contract, supplemented by Orange, who pay US$4.7m for the mobile and video on demand rights, totaling US$47.7m.

After Orange decided not to renew its contract with the league, the most significant change to the current rights package will see Canal Plus given the right to provide video on demand and mobile coverage.

The tender for the broadcast rights has encountered a measure of controversy since its launch on December 27, when Canal Plus initially offered an annual fee of around US$25.5m for two games, something the LNR quickly rejected.

Jean-Louis Dutaret, head of acquisitions at Canal Plus, welcomed the new deal, stating: “The variable depending on the audience and the number of subscribers is a very good thing for us. The audience for the prime-time games varies between 800 and 850,000 viewers for the three games, and 700,000 for the afternoon matches.”