Canal+ and rival pay TV provider beIN Sports have struck an exclusive distribution agreement that will see the Vivendi-owned operator become the sole distributor of the Qatar-owned service in France, according to French press reports.
According to Le Monde, the pair have struck a deal that will see beIN Sports distributed exclusively by Canal+ and Canalsat. The paper said that Canal+ filed the agreement with the competition regulator yesterday with the aim of securing approval. As a necessary step, the Vivendi-owned company also needs to secure the removal of a condition of the 2006 merger between Canalsat and TPS that prevents Canalsat from distributing a premium channel on an exclusive basis. This condition is currently in force until July 2017.
According to Le Monde, beIN Sports will remain independent and an outright acquisition is not on the table. The channel is not for sale and in any case, it is believed that it could prove to be difficult to secure regulatory approval for such as move, according to sources cited by the paper.
Financial title Les Echos has reported that a deal is all but done, with a possibility that it could be announced with Vivendi’s financial results today. According to the paper, Canal+ is likely to use the argument that market conditions have changed significantly since the Canalsat-TPS merger, citing the recent acquisition of English Premier league rights by SFR-Numericable as evidence of the shift.
Vivendi is set to unveil its full-year results for 2015 this evening, with some analysts predicting that Canal+ will admit to having lost up to 300,000 subscribers over the year. According to Le Monde, Canal+ France is likely to post a loss of €100 million or more.
beIN Sports has a subscriber base of about 2.5 million paying €13 a month, with losses estimated to be in the region o f €250 million a year. Canal+ will have to absorb the costs of the Qatar-owned channel’s deal with the French professional football league as part of thye deal. The cost of sports rights held by beIN Sports has been estimated at between €350 million and €400 million a year.
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