French bidding kicks off for football rights

Oliver Smith
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BIDDING for the Champions League football television rights in France is expected to start today, a process likely to be watched closely by UK broadcasters BT and BSkyB as they prepare for the upcoming Premier League auction early next year.

Qatar-owned Al Jazeera, via its sport channel beIN Sports, and Canal Plus, owned by Vivendi, are expected to be the biggest bidders for the top flight games.

Sports rights are becoming increasingly important for broadcasters such as Sky and BT as they use the exclusive content to steal customers from each other.

As a result of the increased competition the cost of sport rights has been drastically increasing.

On Friday the French Ligue 1 football broadcasting rights for 2016 to 2020 were sold off for a record €726.5m (£600m) to Canal Plus and beIN Sports, a 20 per cent increase that places the league as one of the most valuable in the world.

In November, BT delivered a knockout blow to Sky after it bid nearly £900m for Champions League broadcasting rights, an increase of 125 per cent from the previous auction, sending Sky’s shares down 10 per cent.