beIN SPORTS must have thought it won a lottery when PSG landed Lionel Messi to complete a trio with Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Back in the summer of 2021, LaLiga found a new home on ESPN and its paid-streaming service, ESPN+. At the time, Messi was leaving LaLiga after the financial crisis at Barcelona. He happened to fall into the lap of PSG. Therefore, Messi would keep his domestic league games on beIN SPORTS, which holds the rights to Ligue Un.
Flash forward to the close of the 2022/23 campaign, and PSG is falling apart at the seams. Even though the club is going to win its record 10th Ligue 1 title, it is going to lose both Messi and Neymar. The former is in a feud with the club and its fans stemming from a paid trip to Saudi Arabia. Neymar, the player PSG paid a record fee for in the summer of 2017, is also under scrutiny from PSG supporters. They rallied outside his house chanting at him to get out of the club. That could be a contributing factor to his imminent departure.
PSG will recover from their losses. The club’s funding will lead to trophies, even if it does not have two of this generation’s greatest players.
How Messi and Neymar leaving affects beIN SPORTS
beIN SPORTS, on the other hand, is not so lucky. Ligue 1 does not have the draw of other top leagues in Europe. Moreover, Ligue 1 is beIN’s major content generator in Europe. Yes, it does have the rights to the Turkish Super Lig, and Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe can make headlines. However, Ligue 1 is direct competition to the Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga and Serie A.
A major role in that battle is star power, particularly in the absence of true competition. Serie A has had four different top-flight winners over the last four seasons, including the 2022/23 campaign with Napoli.
The Bundesliga is similar to Ligue 1 in its one-club dominance, but the collective league is a better standard. Leverkusen’s appearance in the Europa League semifinal this season and Eintracht Frankfurt winning that competition a season ago say as much.
LaLiga has the star power that Ligue 1 has just on a bigger scale. Barcelona and Real Madrid have massive followings in the United States. Plus, having names like Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema, Luke Modric and Pedri or Gavi help ESPN+ with that promotion.
Once Messi and Neymar depart, Ligue 1 is down to just Kylian Mbappé in terms of proven world-class talents. Not to take anything away from clubs such as Lyon, Marseille, Monaco or Lille, but Neymar and Messi can drive viewers to a channel better, even if it’s a less popular league such as Ligue 1. If beIN SPORTS is going to promote a friendly between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, it can get people to watch a vaunted front three in PSG.
beIN reliant on PSG
If PSG is the main culprit when it comes to beIN’s success, the broadcaster must heavily root for a new signing. Plus, with Kylian Mbappé always on the rumor mill to leave PSG for a more traditional giant like Real Madrid, the stars in Ligue 1 could be fading out.
Therefore, beIN SPORTS must certainly be hoping that one of these potential signings comes to fruition. As of now, Randal Kolo Muani, Marcus Thuram, Victor Osimhen, Bernardo Silva and others could join the squad. Each of these names is talented and has the ability to be great. However, until PSG can deliver in Europe and show a more global audience what it is capable of, more casual fans in the United States will have no desire to tune in.
Messi carries an audience, as does Neymar. Without those two stars in the league, beIN SPORTS could be severely hampered in its soccer coverage.
PHOTO: IMAGO / ActionPictures
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