Canal+ scores first-pick Champions League rights
By Colin Mann

Canal+ will continue its long-standing role as a UEFA content partner after being awarded the final, so-called ‘first-pick’ media rights package for the 2012–15 UEFA Champions League in France.

The news follows the earlier revelation that Canal+ had lost the majority of its broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League football matches to Al Jazeera’s sports division. Al Jazeera paid around €180 million to cover the games for a three-year period beginning with the 2012-13 season. The amount paid was reportedly twice what Canal+ had offered. Al Jazeera now gets to cover 133 matches per season in return for paying some €60 million per season.

The package acquired by Canal+ consists of 13 first-pick live matches as well as the UEFA Champions League magazine programme. Each game will be broadcast live on Canal+, with the Saturday final and the weekly magazine show being screened on a free-to-air basis. The live matches will also be accessible on a platform-neutral basis (including via the Internet and on mobile). No financial details were released.

The ‘first-pick’ package had previously been awarded to French free-to-air network TF1. UEFA took the opportunity to thank TF1 for “its significant contribution and continued commitment to the competition”.

Canal+ said that by winning the first-pick package, despite strong competition, it had been able to improve its offer and its editorial promise, as with its securing of French Ligue 1 football rights.