the paradox of the Blues, world champions soon without a TV station

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Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines (France) (AFP) – Who will broadcast Blues? Held by TF1 and M6 until the end of March, the television rights of the French football team are struggling to attract a limited market that is reluctant to break the bank for not-so-profitable world champions.

By packing their equipment together, Friday after France-Côte d’Ivoire (2-1), the M6 ​​teams had to wonder if the friendly match in Marseille would be their last with the French team.

Their TF1 counterparts can experience the same feeling on Tuesday in Lille after France-South Africa, the last match in a co-broadcasting contract that has been in force since 2018.

For the rest, nothing is registered: the supply of matches in the 2022/2028 period – excl. WC and EC, sold separately – did not succeed in the autumn, and Kylian Mbappé’s partners do not know, yet, which channel will broadcast their next meetings, scheduled for June for the League of Nations.

“We can regret it a little. I have the impression that we have fulfilled our mission with loyal partners, TF1 and 6. The audience has been good, yes even very good, and French football has done very well. Behaved”, remarked at end of the year the president of the French Federation (FFF) Noël Le Graët in an interview with AFP.

Prestige does not mean profitability

Centralized by UEFA and headed by the marketing agency CAA Eleven, authorized by the European football body, the procedure initially included disappointing offers: with 2.4 million euros per. match offered the blues according to a close source to the file, TF1 and M6 have remained well below the 3.5 million they currently pay for each meeting…

Over-the-counter negotiations have since opened, and the association hopes to reach an amount at least equal to the amount in the current cycle, even if it means pulling the lots over or shortening the original sales period.

Have the Blues and their stars suddenly lost their seductive ability? “Even with the French team, football is not a directly profitable product for free-to-air channels,” Philippe Bailly, head of consulting firm NPA, which specializes in media, told AFP. “There is certainly a significant part of image, prestige and loyalty, but in matches with fewer efforts, the public is not cheated, and neither are the channels.”

The calendar is not conducive to major spending until the 2022 World Cup, scheduled for winter and already awarded to TF1 and beIN Sports: TF1 and M6 are engaged in a 2023 merger project that obscures the future of two groups and de facto pulls prices down. .

few actors

“I think it’s a bit unfortunate that one of the first cost-saving measures in the forthcoming merger between the two groups is to offer a smaller amount than before,” lamented Noël Le Graët in late November, before finally promising. days of progress “at the end of March” in an interview with Ouest-France.

The political situations – presidential elections in France, war in Ukraine – and health are nonetheless all reasons for concern about the future finances of the FFF, which has recovered € 33.6 million in television rights for the French team in 2020/21.

“TF1 and M6 will remain in a convalescence year 2022, with also a lot of uncertainties. In case of a good period, one can crack the piggy bank for such an investment. When that is not the case, one is aware of expenses,” suggests Philippe Bailly.

The Blues also suffer from the conditions of awarding their matches, which are considered “of great importance” and reserved for unencrypted channels, although a paid co-broadcaster remains possible as long as a free player broadcasts all the matches.

But the actors are not legion. “I do not see France’s TV embarking on the adventure when it has its own sporting rights to defend (Six Nations, Olympics, Roland-Garros …)”, says Philippe Bailly. “As for the small chains, it’s hard to see how they will make the investment profitable.”

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