The Ligue 1 domestic TV rights in France have not found a suitor. The French top flight wants more money per year for domestic rights than TV broadcasters are willing to offer. As a result, Ligue 1 is considering a direct-to-consumer service where it would organize the broadcasts and make them available to audiences in France.

Previously, Ligue 1 set a target of over $1 billion in annual revenue from its TV rights deals. The leading candidate to head the domestic TV rights for Ligue 1 is DAZN. The streaming platform launched a service designated for a French audience. However, it was not a part of the most recent deal for Ligue 1 TV rights in France. That belonged to Amazon and Canal+ via beIN SPORTS. Combined, those pulled in $662 million per year. Requesting $1 billion per year from providers is a massive bump in price that these services would not be willing to maintain. Moreover, Canal+ is backing out of any LFP deals because of the way the relationship ended.

In response, SportsPro is suggesting a direct-to-consumer platform would make sense. Yet, it has never happened before. The nature of the expenses regarding marketing, facilities, infrastructure and other expenses, particularly from the ground up, are exceedingly high. Leagues and fans expect higher-quality broadcasts that lead to higher production costs.

There is an argument that Ligue 1 is only promoting the notion of a direct-to-consumer broadcast to spur traditional broadcasters to budge on a new deal. However, it does raise an interesting thought. If the French league is willing to take this risk with relatively lower funding, the LFP could take that infrastructure internationally.

Ligue 1 rights in the USA could use direct-to-consumer platform, too

The domestic Ligue 1 rights were not the only thing to expire after the 2023/24 season. In the United States, beIN SPORTS’ deal to broadcast games to American audiences expired. Much like those rights in France, American broadcasters are yet to strike a deal with Ligue 1 for the upcoming campaign and the ones after.

A direct-to-consumer option in France would be costly. Yet, Ligue 1 could profit from the infrastructure necessary for a domestic DTC platform. The broadcasts in the United States, and frankly anywhere else that needs a Ligue 1 platform, would use the same TV work that Ligue 1 uses. After that, the American broadcasts would simply need English commentary crews and potential studio work.

In other words, it is feasible to see this future. Yet, that comes at a huge risk both in popularity and competitiveness. As of now, Ligue 1 sits well behind the other top leagues in Europe in terms of financial power. Losing a TV rights deal with an established power takes away the prospect of immediate money. Additionally, it would cost Ligue 1 some of its current money to make this possible. Ligue 1 would need time to build an audience and thus build up revenue that can help the league.

Precedent would go a long way for other leagues. Even if it does not happen with Ligue 1 ahead of the 2024/25 season, it is noteworthy that league executives for top competitions have this on their minds.