RMC Sport: towards the end of the sports channel?

RMC Sports logoThe RMC Sport channel, which belongs to the Altice group, is linked to the strategy of the telecommunications operator SFR but in the long term, it could disappear.

In April 2016, five new sports channels called SFR Sport were launched by the Altice group (RMC, BFM TV, RMC Sport, etc.) and in July 2018, they became RMC Sport. There are now two regular channels and some exclusives: the Europa League and Europa League Conference (excluding the best poster), the Portuguese Football Championship and MMA (UFC, Bellator, etc.). RMC Sport also continues to co-broadcast two Champions League posters with CANAL+.

The CEO of Altice Media and Altice France (SFR), Arthur Dreyfuss, announced in early August the non-renewal of the Premier League co-broadcasting agreement with CANAL+, which occupied the weekend grid. As L’Equipe recalls, CANAL renegotiated its own annual contract downwards last year and was in favor of a new split with RMC Sport.

Worried employees

But CANAL + and Altice did not reach an agreement, enough to make observers think of a new sign of the gradual withdrawal of RMC Sport. For the CGT union representative Alban Azaïs, “With hindsight, employees understand that the channels were launched to restore the SFR image when it was needed and that there was no real desire to be part of the time… We think that it was a marketing stunt, that we will go to the end of the current rights until 2024 and then it will be over. »

In 2016, the objective was to help win back SFR internet and mobile subscribers. The Altice group had therefore practically doubled the amounts of the rights to the French Basketball Championship in 2016, then to the Premier League in 2016. The following year, it signed a check for 350 million euros per season at the UEFA for the Champions League and the Europa League from 2018 to 2021.

According to L’Equipe, the amounts of guaranteed minimums claimed to distribute sports channels to other operators meant for competitors a « fierce will » to maintain exclusivity to maximize the sale of SFR boxes. An agreement was finally reached to distribute RMC Sport to CANAL+ satellite subscribers.

The question of stopping the chain

The daily indicates that the Altice group was no longer going to display the same ambitions in sports content and in 2018, RMC Sport did not participate in the call for tenders for Ligue 1 rights and lost the following year. the Champions League for 2021-2024. In the spring of 2020 after the first confinement, the question of stopping RMC Sport then arose seriously.

Then the decision was to maintain the chain but drastically reduce costs. Many positions have been eliminated, and the number of freelancers has been halved. L’Equipe recalls that RMC Sport News has also been closed, and several sports rights have been abandoned. The RMC Sport subscription is still 19 euros per month for those who are not SFR subscribers, and 9 euros for subscribers. These would be 2 million in number (free and paid).

According to the sports daily, the rights of the UFC expire in more than a year and those of the European Football Cups in May 2024. Some employees then think of attending a  » slow death «  of the sports channel but the management ensures that the group will continue to apply for certain rights.

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