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Altice’s SFR rethinking sports strategy

facade_campus_sfr_maxime_dufour__photographies_3Altice-owned French service provider SFR is planning a radical rethink of its sports strategy to recoup its investment in premium rights, with a new focus on expanding its OTT TV offering, according to a report in French financial daily Les Echos.

According to the paper, citing an unnamed internal source, SFR is in the process of rethinking its TV strategy, which has until now been focused on its bundled multi-play fixed offering.

The current SFR Sport offering, priced at €9.99, has so far attracted only a very modest number of subscribers, excluding the joint offering with the more popular BeIN Sports launched in February.

According to the source cited by Les Echos, SFR has now acknowledged that it has not succeeded in using its sport offering to attract sufficient subscribers to its fixed-line bundles.

The operator may now look to boost its OTT offering in order to recoup its investment in rights. SFR will from next year hold the rights to the Champions League and Europa League competitions in addition to its existing flagship property, the English Premier League.

According to Les Echos, SFR also plans to focus on making all its sports channels premium rather than providing them as part of a bundle in with its multi-play service.

SFR’s performance has been central to the problems currently being experienced by Altice, whose shares have lost well over half their value since the beginning of November, when it unveiled disappointing quarterly financials.

The company, with a new management team in place under the direct control of founder Patrick Drahi, recently promised to de-lever the company’s balance sheet and not to pursue any new M&A activity, as well as to dispose of non-core assets.

The company last week put Altice Dominican Republic up for sale, according to the Financial Times, citing unnamed sources. Altice bought the unit from Orange in 2013 for €1.1 billion, outbidding Liberty Global, whose newly spun-off LiLaC division may be an obvious buyer for the asset.