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Canal+ threatens boycott of Ligue 1 over Amazon rights award

French broadcaster Canal+ has threatened to pull out of its rights deal with Ligue 1 over the decision to award the largest rights package to Amazon.

The French professional league (LFP) announced deals with Canal+ and Amazon until 2024 last week. 

The league had previously signed a blockbuster deal with Sino-Spanish media company Mediapro, but this was cancelled after less than six months following failed attempts from Mediapro to renegotiate the arrangement in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rights for the remainder of the 2020/21 season were awarded to Canal+ in February.

The broadcaster however is now threatening to entirely pull out of covering Ligue 1 in light of the rights award to Amazon. The US company will show 302 live games per season, equating to 80% of the available matches in a deal worth a reported €250 million per year.

In a statement, the Vivendi-owned broadcaster said: “Canal+ regrets the French professional league’s decision to pick Amazon’s proposal, to the detriment of its historical partners such as Canal+ and beIN Sports.”

It remains to be seen how serious Canal+ is in this statement. The broadcaster has historically used forceful tactics to get its way, particularly with the LFP. Following the collapse of the Mediapro deal, Canal+ declined to place a tender on the re-auction on the grounds that it was unwilling to pay the asking price. It was eventually handed the rights at a reportedly discounted price.

Canal+ is also aggrieved by a ruling against the broadcaster from France’s competition watchdog, the Autorité de la concurrence. On Friday, the watchdog rejected a complaint submitted by the broadcaster in March. Canal+ had complained about the LFP’s decision not to put all Ligue 1 rights back on the market following the scrapping of the Mediapro deal.