These are really bad times for the global sports market. The impact of Covid19 is such that by the day deals, relationships, commercial contracts and commitments are falling by way-side. Terminations, disputes, disagreements are gradually becoming a norm. Biggest of the sporting leagues have got into a situation where their long term media partners are either terminating or contemplating termination of their agreements.
Canal Plus, the French pay-television broadcaster, has informed France’s Professional Football League (LFP) that it is terminating its media-rights agreement following the decision to end the 2019-20 Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons.
The Vivendi-owned broadcaster has acted swiftly after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told the French Parliament on Tuesday that the current seasons of professional sports, including football, would not be able to resume because of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Canal Plus informed the LFP this morning, reports L’Équipe, and will not be making any more rights fee payments.
Canal Plus and fellow domestic rights-holder beIN Sports, the pay-television broadcaster, last week agreed to pay reduced terms for the French league matches already played, but were awaiting clarity over the structure and timing of the rest of the season before making any further payments.
Canal Plus paid around €37m ($40.4m) as part of its settlement but, it is claimed, insisted on a clause that it would make no additional payment if the 2019-20 season did not resume.
International media group Discovery is seeking to terminate its media-rights contract with the German Football League (DFL), utilising a reported ‘special termination’ clause.
German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the clause can be used in the event of an unforeseen circumstance, such as the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic.
It is thought that the DFL is considering legal action against the move by Discovery, which has showcased the Bundesliga matches on Eurosport.
Discovery acquired a package of top-tier Bundesliga rights in a four-season deal, from 2017-18 to 2020-21. Rights included: exclusive live rights to 40 Bundesliga matches per season; non-exclusive rights to the German Super Cup; exclusive live rights to two promotion/relegation matches between Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga; and two non-exclusive live matches to the 2. Bundesliga and 3. Liga promotion/relegation matches.
The media group then sublicensed all its rights on to DAZN, the OTT streaming service, in August last year, in a deal covering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. The wide-ranging agreement also included DAZN distributing the Eurosport 1 and 2 channels on its platforms in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain.
A date of May 9 was initially touted as when the Bundesliga could restart, but this is looking more unlikely, with reports suggesting this will put back by at least a week. A decision on the restart was expected on April 30th if May 9 was possible but nothing was officially announced.