To reach the billion euros in TV rights hoped for, French soccer must notably reduce piracy – a “winnable” fight, even if “it will be long”, explained the deputy general secretary of beIN Sports to Agence France- Press on the eve of Tuesday’s auction for the broadcast of Ligue 1.
“We cannot eradicate piracy in such a rapid time, it is protean, it is a big business, they do everything to circumvent the protection measures,” explains Caroline Guenneteau, also legal director of the Qatari channel. “In the meantime, French law has largely contributed to considerably reducing mass consumption, via online marketing sites. streaming », she adds. The law of October 25, 2021 on the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital age, in force since October 1er January 2022, aims in particular to protect live sport on TV.
The leader, who initiated the founding of the Association for the Protection of Sports Programs five years ago, considers “this law effective, [car] it allows us to obtain legal injunctions to block the sites of streaming illegal “. “Unfortunately, we still get hacked a lot,” she admits.
“But it is a process that is only a year old, which is in the process of becoming industrialized. There is real judicial coordination work, between beIN, Canal, L1… We still manage to block a lot of sites,” confides Caroline Guenneteau. The “tactic” is to “target the big, well-known sites first, to discourage the basic Internet user”. What does not stop “perhaps the diligent pirate — the geek which, whatever the state of the law, will always find a way to circumvent.”
“In music, before, everyone pirated, now everyone has Deezer or Spotify,” adds the manager.
She mentions “a shortfall of several hundred million euros, according to an assessment that we had already made a few years ago”. “But it’s not just a loss of earnings for beIN, Canal or RMC,” assures Caroline Guenneteau, “it’s for everyone in the [soccer]. I insist: we do not only protect private interests. If our first competitor is not another channel, but a pirate, we will pay less TV rights, and the [soccer] then behind the amateurs will receive less. »
But pirates are often one step ahead. Maël, a 20-year-old French student and occasional soccer consumer, assures us that he “always finds a site that broadcasts [illégalement] a match”, especially those of his favorite team, Arsenal.
In addition to this technical ease, there is competition from what is colloquially called “the box du bled”, a paid subscription box which offers a whole list of content. “For 100 euros per year, you can have all the matches on Earth on all the channels on Earth,” noted sports television rights specialist Pierre Maës to Agence France-Presse. “Piracy is cheaper and the product is better than legal offers, it’s a big problem for rights holders. »
“We must succeed in making fans understand that if they are pirated, the competitions lose value,” explains beIN Sports program director Florian Houzot. If the broadcasters consider that it is no longer an exclusive competition, the amount of rights falls and, indirectly, the sporting value of the competition. »
As such, he believes that “it is good that there are only two lots for the L1 call for tenders” on Monday and Tuesday, “because the dispersion of broadcasters encourages piracy”.
“The fight is winnable,” assures Caroline Guenneteau. We obtained a text dedicated to the protection of sports content in live, this is still enormous progress. Other European countries are following France’s example. It’s slow, you shouldn’t be impatient, but it’s not a lost cause, far from it. If we didn’t fight this fight, we would have lost a lot more. »