The French Ligue Professionnel de Football (LFP) opened bidding for the international broadcast rights to Ligue 1. Any new rights deal would run from 2024 to 2029. The league is looking to significantly boost overseas revenue.

In the crucial US market, beIN SPORTS holds the rights to the French league in 2023/24. However, beIN SPORTS’ distribution in the USA has come into question recently. Its position as the Ligue 1 broadcaster is uncertain beyond the current deal. With the expiry of this deal, the LFP sees an opportunity to substantially grow the value of media rights in a key growth market when it goes to tender. Currently, LFP values international broadcast rights at $85 million per season. The LFP is aiming to at least triple the value of Ligue 1’s international rights.

Therefore, LFP president Vincent Labrune set an ambitious overall target of surpassing $1 billion for domestic and international rights combined.

The LFP’s new five-year approach with Ligue 1 international rights

To drive up interest, the LFP is auctioning Ligue 1 domestic and international rights simultaneously over the same 5-year period from 2024-2029. This move provides greater stability and visibility for potential bidders. The simplified tender process, with just two lots on offer for domestic rights, is also designed to maximize revenue potential. The premium package includes the first picks from each matchday and digital rights, while the second package comprises additional matches.

Plenty of players for domestic rights

Long-time domestic rightsholder Canal+ has emphasized the value of digital rights and could potentially partner with recent French entrant DAZN, which has launched itself domestically in collaboration with Canal+. A joint bid from the pair is one possibility for the premium package. Amazon Prime Video, which scooped up rights following the withdrawal of Mediapro in 2020, is expected to be in contention again. BeIN Sports, despite only having rights to matches sub-licensed by Canal+ domestically, could look to acquire full rights internationally.

Other potential bidders include Apple TV+, which recently acquired MLS rights. Apple has, or had, links with both the Premier League and the Bundesliga. Ligue 1 could be a natural step into European soccer. Also, Warner Bros Discovery is a potential home. One notable absence will be Mediapro, after the fallout from its aborted Ligue 1 deal in 2018.

With ambitious revenue goals, LFP chief Labrune will be hoping increased global interest in French football will drive up the value of media rights worldwide. Capturing the potential of key markets like the US will be vital if the LFP is to hit its financial targets.