Canal + was betting big on this alliance that would allow him to stop the leak of subscribers and cut its losses.
It is not. In a ruling Thursday, the Competition Authority rejects the exclusive distribution agreement BeIN Sports channels in France by Canal +. The Antitrust gendarme took the view that “the conditions are not met to lift the ban on exclusive distribution of premium sports channel that weighs on Canal +” since 2012, ban imposed after the merger of TPS and CanalSat. It was a significant change in market conditions that the Authority authorizes the chain to enter into such an alliance. It considers that “the circumstances of law or fact have not changed significantly since 2012″.
Concluded in February, the agreement provided that only retoqué Canal + and CanalSat could distribute programs Qatari chains, major holders of broadcasting rights in football, especially in Ligue 1 and the champions League. But this beautiful building, which was supposed to sound the hour of conquest for Canal +, collapses.
This is obviously a setback for the subsidiary of Vivendi and its president, Vincent Bolloré, who seeks to revitalize the chain, challenged both on film by platforms like Netflix SVOD, and sports, land on which beIN Sports and SFR have positioned themselves aggressively buying back important rights. The reconciliation between beIN Sport and Canal + made sense for both. BeIN to the agreement with Canal + would allow it to become profitable. Its aggressive acquisition of rights has certainly enabled him to attract over 2.5 million subscribers since June 2012. But at a very high price. According to Natixis, the losses of the channel package would amount to more than 250 million euros per year. By selling Canal + an exclusive broadcasting right for five years to a minimum of 300 million euros a year, its accounts would be moved in the green.
For Canal +, which had initiated discussions with beIN Sports after the loss of the rights of the English Football Championship, rounded up by Altice (SFR) in November, the agreement was to stabilize its subscriber portfolio. Over 500,000 subscriptions are gone in a year. Vincent Bolloré hoped to restore color to supply its chain, including recovering the exclusive broadcasting rights for German and Italian football leagues. With its new attributes, Canal + could hope to regain its leadership in the sport on television, then allow it to reshape its offer and defend its price level.
By distributing channels beIN Sports, CanalSat hoped collect the entire beIN Sports sales price, 14 euros per month, representing a turnover of 420 million euros a year. Even by donating much to beIN Sports, the operator must maintain the distribution margin.
Consulted by the Competition Authority, the Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA) had already issued reserves June 3 in confidential advice, fearing that the two groups agree in future allocations of sports rights but also not injure competitors by weakening the free channels.
the veto of antitrust will revive concerns about the future of Canal +. On April 21, during the general meeting of Vivendi, Vincent Bolloré had not hesitated to warn that if the chain could not distribute beIN Sports, it would not be possible to finance “indefinitely” its losses, that he then estimated at 475 million euros for this year. The businessman launched this threat, veiled, in the direction at the same time the Competition Authority, the bodies of sport and football fans … He was not heard.
in a terse statement, the Canal + group said take note of the decision of the Competition Authority and adds that “therefore it will work on other solutions to stop the loss of (his) French channels “.
the competition Authority gives his side less than a year to review all constraints on Canal + in 2012 and so” define a clear and precise framework for period 2017-2022 “.