Prime time viewing or bust for armchair French football fans

Paris (AFP) – It will be Prime time viewing or bust next season for French football after internet commerce behemoth Amazon won the rights to show games from the top two divisions.

Armchair supporters will first off have to subscribe to Amazon Prime for 5.99 euros (£7.50) a month or 49 euros a year and then pay 12.99 euros monthly supplement to access Ligue 1 action.

“Prime Video Ligue 1” will be offered to fans without the need to commit to a minimum one year as Amazon becomes “the new home of Ligue 1 in France,” in the words of Alex Green, Managing Director, Amazon Prime Video, telling AFP the price level was “attractive.”.

Prime customers will also have access without further cost to a clutch of other French games including the season-opening Champions Trophy, which will pit league champions Lille against French Cup Paris Saint-Germain in Tel-Aviv early next month.

There will be a football magazine show on Sundays prior to the late Sunday game, which will kick off at 8:45pm local time compared with 9pm previously.

Amazon, which for the first time showed French Open tennis action last month, is steadily growing its football broadcasting footprint in Europe having won the rights to show Champions League matches in Italy, while it already shows live football in Germany and has rights for some English Premier League matches.

Next season it will also share French Ligue 2 coverage with L’Equipe group.

Broadcasting of French football rights was thrown up for grabs after the spectacular collapse of a record contract with Mediapro which had been expected to bring in 780 million euros ($941m) per season for the four years to 2024.

That contract was terminated in December, barely four months in, after Mediapro — a Spanish company controlled by a Chinese investment fund — failed to meet payment deadlines.

Earlier this year it was revealed top-flight French clubs were set to suffer catastrophic combined losses of more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.57 billion) across the season just ended due to a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic — which has led to games being played in empty stadiums — and the collapse of the Mediapro deal.

The Mediapro deal accounted for 80 percent of total rights, with Canal+ paying 330 million euros a year for the remaining 20 percent.

This time neither Canal nor Qatari group BeIN Sports chose to tender for the rights.

“We are extremely happy to begin this partnership with the (French) football league and to broadcast the best of Ligue 1 on Prime Video,” Amazon France director general Frederic Duval told AFP, without indicating how many viewers the company hoped to attract to the service.

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