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Canal+, beIN Sport ‘near carriage deal’

Vivendi-owned Canal+ and rival beIN Sports are moving towards an agreement based on the exclusive carriage of the Qatar-owned pay TV service by Canal+ or Canalsat rather than an outright purchase, according to a report in Le Monde.

According to the paper, citing an unnamed source close to the negotiations, the two sides have struck, or are close to striking, an agreement in principle.

A deal would see beIN Sports distributed exclusively by Canal+ or its pay TV platform Canalsat.

While beIN Media Group has shown little interest in a deal publicly, both sides are said to recognise that it could be in their best interest – Canal in order to arrest its decline in subscribers amidst rising sports right costs and beIN Media Group to address the problem of rapidly accumulating financial losses.

Any agreement could face two sources of resistance in the shape of the French Football League, the LFP, and competition watchdog L’Autorité de la Concurrence.

Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré recently went on a charm offensive to convince football chiefs, inviting the heads of the LFP and leading team OM, among others, to Vivendi’s HQ in Paris to address their concerns about the impact of a deal on future revenues to the league as a result of less competition for rights, and any onward impact on viewership if the subscription price of beIN Sports – currently a low €13 (US$14.67) – rises, adversely affecting sponsorship revenue.

On the regulatory front, sports newspaper L’Équipe reported yesterday that the competition regulator had decided rto launch a market consultation encompassing rights holders, channels, internet service providers and others to get their views.

Canal+ is currently not allowed to strike an exclusive distribution deal with a third-party premium channel as a condition of Canalsat’s merger with TPS. However, Vivendi is hopeful that it can overturn this in view of changes in the market since the merger was struck, according to Le Monde.