Mediapro lifts the veil on Téléfoot, the channel which will broadcast the majority of Ligue 1 for four years. On Monday, the Sino-Spanish group announced a distributor – SFR -, new rights – the Champions League and the Europa League, co-broadcast with RMC Sport this season – and a subscription price of 25.90 euros per month in one year commitment case. This Tuesday, he gave his baby a launch date: August 17, four days before the first Ligue 1 match broadcast on his channel, OM – Saint-Etienne.
But all is not settled. Negotiations are still underway with distributors like Orange, Free or Bouygues, and discussions with Facebook are also mentioned. At the same time, Téléfoot must make the first payment of TV rights to the Professional Football League in early August and launch its channel in a Ligue 1 which will resume with stands sparse by health constraints. Subjects scanned with “Le Parisien-Today in France” by Jaume Roures, boss of Mediapro, during an interview on the sidelines of his press conference on Tuesday.
You announced that you obtained the rights to the Champions League on Monday. Ligue 1 was not enough to get you started?
JAUME ROURES. The most important for us remains Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. The Champions League is the icing on the cake. We could have started without it, but we are happy to have it.
With these new rights, have you considered increasing the subscription price?
We wanted to start with this price of 25.90 euros, we stay on what we need for our development. It is a very interesting price for the public, one of the best offers in Europe today with 85% of the matches of the first division, the Ligue 2, the Champions League, the Europa League…
Between Ligue 1 at 780 million euros and the Champions League that RMC pays 350 million euros per year, will you pay nearly a billion euros in rights in the first year?
No, that’s not the right number. We’re not going to spend a billion. Some add numbers outside of reality. We do not give precise figures, but we must not forget that SFR sold the Champions League to Canal + (Editor’s note: RMC Sport is available on the boxes of the Canal group). We do not pay half of the amount mentioned in the press, we have stayed on a reasonable figure. With this agreement, we will be able to seduce the 770,000 football fans at SFR (Editor’s note: RMC Sport subscribers via a SFR box).
When can you reach the 3.5 million subscribers you are targeting?
We can not know. We are starting with this potential of 770,000 people with SFR, the rest will depend on the agreements we can make in the coming days and the new means that we will put on the market to follow Téléfoot. At that time, we will see the developments necessary to reach 3.5 million subscribers. We never said it was for the coming month, it’s just the business plan’s goal.
According to a Harris Interactive poll (carried out with 3,966 French people aged 15 and over between July 3 and 7), nearly 7 out of 10 French people do not know Téléfoot …
It’s logic. The competition has not yet started and the Covid-19 has shifted people’s attention to things more important than football. Now, we will make ourselves known with the resumption of football and people who want to follow the championship for the resumption on August 21 will come to subscribe to Téléfoot.
Are you not worried that the looming economic crisis will cause enthusiasts not to subscribe?
That’s why we stopped this price of 25.90 euros. We take into account the economic situation and the problems to come with the health crisis. I insist: there is no better quantitative and qualitative offer than ours on the market today.
Why is your price crisper? Do you think that this is a situation specific to France or that you suffer from the comparison with BeIN Sports when it was launched in 2012 (11 euros)?
There are millions of subscribers who pay more than 25 euros to see the Champions League and Ligue 1 in France. The BeIN Sports offer to which you refer was more limited than ours. We have to compare ourselves with comparable offers, those with the best matches in the Champions League and Ligue 1. And not only in France.
For the moment, your only distributor is SFR. Will there be more soon?
We are not only talking about traditional distributors, we are also thinking of a different, complementary offer, with operators more unusual in the world of football. We will be announcing agreements in the next few days. I am sure that we will also be able to quickly announce agreements with traditional distributors. I think there will be more than a traditional operator with us for the resumption of Ligue 1.
Distributors talk about complicated negotiations with you, deem you too demanding …
The guaranteed minimum required from distributors was not invented by Mediapro. This has been the norm for twenty-five years in this sector, and not only abroad. It’s not just to pay the bills, it’s to secure commitments with distributors, and they strengthen their relationship with their subscribers. We don’t discuss semantics, we discuss content, marketing, the offers we can make to their customers. Now is the problem us or the guaranteed minimum? Some people want to take advantage of the situation to play against us, but there is nothing new with us.
Are you interested in other rights?
We are happy with what we have today. The Premier League is off the market, I think it is too expensive in France (Editor’s note: around 115 million euros). In Spain, we pay around 20% of this amount. It’s unreasonable, but it’s not the fault of the Premier League, rather those who buy at this price. We don’t buy at this price.
You have acquired the rights to the Champions League for a single season. Are you going to negotiate with Canal + and BeIN Sports (Editor’s note: broadcasters from 2021 to 2024) in a year?
Let’s already wait to see how this season goes. All I’m saying is nobody saw us in this situation a year ago. So, in a year, we will see where we are. Us, and the others.
Mediapro took out a loan with the health crisis. Should you be worried about your business?
In Spain, France and elsewhere, many companies have had to take out loans with the Covid-19 crisis. There is nothing exceptional. If you make a list of Spanish companies that have requested loans, we are a long way from those that may have requested larger amounts.
When will you make the first transfer to the Professional Football League?
We will pay the money when we have to pay it (Editor’s note: two weeks before the resumption). We are always asked the question, it surprises me. For the moment, we are guilty of nothing, we have always responded present. Why did other broadcasters pay less than what they broadcast from the French League? I don’t see that many questions around it.
Will subscribers have to pay if the health situation stops Ligue 1 again?
We are not going to ask our subscribers for money if the meetings are put on standby by the health crisis. If there is no football, we are not going to charge. It also works for us. We are a football channel, and we won’t pay if the matches are stopped either. But I hope we will not come to this situation.
Does Ligue 1 with 5,000 spectators, a gauge announced by the government until the end of August except for exceptions, still have the same value?
It’s a different thing, but it’s not just about football. It’s different at the cinema, at the restaurant, for music, life in general. It’s not the League’s fault, it’s not our fault. We are forced to adapt to the conditions.