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French Ligue 1

Chinese-owned company Mediapro wins French Ligue 1 soccer broadcasting rights over France’s own Canal Plus

Mediapro, which is majority-owned by Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai, won the right to screen the championship’s top 10 matches

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2018, 4:52am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2018, 5:09am

Spain’s Mediapro, a Chinese-owned group, beat Vivendi’s Canal Plus in a crucial soccer broadcasting auction in France on Tuesday, claiming the rights to cover Ligue 1, France’s top football league, as prices boomed by close to 60 per cent.

The setback in the rights for Canal Plus’ current difficulties to grow in its native France, where it has historically built a reputation of broadcasting major soccer matches.

Contrasting fortunes for Chinese-owned soccer clubs this season

It also confirms the inflation of sports rights globally is not yet over and represents a dramatic entry onto France’s broadcasting stage for Mediapro, majority-owned by Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai.

Annual broadcasting rights for the French soccer championship will reach a record of more than €1.15 billion (US$1.33 billion) over the 2020-2024 period, the head of the country’s professional soccer association, Didier Quillot, told a news conference in Paris.

This represents a 59.7 per cent jump over the previous five-year period, he said.

Contrasting fortunes for Chinese-owned soccer clubs this season

Out of the seven lots offered for the auction, three were won by Mediapro, including the one featuring the championship’s top 10 matches.

Qatar-controlled beIN Sports won one smaller lot. French telecoms operator Iliad also won a lot, for the first time of its history.

Two lots were still unattributed as of Tuesday.

“We’re well aware that what happened today will represent a turning point,” Quillot told reporters. “[Canal Plus] bid for each of the seven lots, and for each of these lots, it was outbid by someone who had a better offer.”

Mediapro will create a dedicated channel from scratch to broadcast the soccer matches, Quillot said.