Sports Business : beIN & French Ligue settles issues, 50% media fee cut for the balance payments

The French Football League (LFP) and international pay-television broadcaster beIN Media Group have settled the thorny issue of outstanding international broadcast rights fee payments according to Sports Business. The LFP announced on Friday that its board finalized an agreement with beIN that “definitively settles the rights fee owed” for the 2019-20 season.

The compromise deal means that beIN will pay $18.3m instead of the $39m owed. Qatar-headquartered beIN holds the Ligue 1 international rights in six-year deal from 2018-19 to 2023-24 worth an average of $89m per season. The deal was agreed in 2014. The fee installment of $39m due at the end of April was not paid by beIN amid the suspension of the French top flight.The French football season was terminated after the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that the current seasons of professional sports, including football, would not be able to resume because of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agreement with beIN on the international rights follows on from agreements with beIN and fellow pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus over domestic rights fee payments. BeIN also missed a $46.5m fee installment for its domestic rights before reaching a $11.75m settlement for matches already played.

The league said that it “welcomes the constructive dialogue with the official broadcasters of Ligue 1 Conforama and Domino’s Ligue 2 which have led to these agreements”. However, it noted that the agreements “must not overshadow the unprecedented economic crisis facing French football”.

Background of Media Rights payment Issues with the Broadcasters

– beIN & Canal Plus both refused to pay media rights installments due for 5th April 2020 and 5th June 2020.

– Canal Plus along with BeIN Sports warned the LFP in March that they would not be making their latest rights fee installments due on April 5. These amounted to $120m and $45m respectively for both the broadcasters. The Qatar-backed beIN was faced with a $16.35m rights fee payment for matches already played and it later agreed to pay a reduced sum of $11.5m under its compromise agreement with the league.

– Canal Plus by the end of April informed the LFP that it would be terminating its agreement. Canal Plus paid around $40m as part of a settlement with LFP for fees to matches already played, but insisted on a clause that it would make no additional payment if the 2019-20 season did not resume. Finally the season in May was terminated for the rest of the year.

– The LFP’s deals with Canal Plus and beIN Sports for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are worth a combined $817m on average per season from 2016-17 to 2019-20. The Ligue 1 rights represent $792m – or 97 per cent – of that sum, with the broadcasters’ and balance 3% attributed to Ligue 2 as media rights fee per season.