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SFR chief says operator will ‘take a look’ at Ligue 1 rights

facade_campus_sfr_maxime_dufour__photographies_3New SFR CEO Alain Weill has said that the Altice-owned service provider will take a look at participating in the next auction of premium French football rights, despite mounting concerns about SFR’s performance and its parent company’s indebtedness that have seen Altice’s shares lose well over half their value in the last month.

Speaking at an event organised by financial daily Les Echos, Weill said that he would see whether Ligue 1 rights could be added to SFR’s existing portfolio of football rights, which will include the European Champions League and Europa League competitions from next September.

However, Weill nuanced his comments by adding that SFR did not not need to rush and that “all options are open” including partnerships with other players.

SFR has spent over €1.1 billion on its European football rights for the 2018-21 seasons, in the hope that its sports offering would win new subscribers to its fixed-line services and secure new customers for its multi-play offerings.

Recently however, there has been speculation that the operator could change its strategy, developing its OTT TV sports offering as part of a search for new ways to recoup its huge investment in rights. Weill acknowledged the need to improve monetization of its investment at the Les Echos event.

Analysts have speculated that Altice’s financial woes could lead the Ligue to hold off on launching an appeal for offers for now in the hope that Altice could re-emerge as a potential bidder at a later date.

Separately, Altice’s pay TV rival Canal+ has simulcast a Ligue 1 match on its free-to-air channel C8 alongside its airing on the Canal+ premium channel for the first time.

Canal+ said that the match between Paris Saint-germanin and L’Estac Troyes attracted 1.7 million spectators on the FTA channel – a 7.2% share – along with one million on Canal+ – a 20.6% share of the Canal+ pay TV audience.