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Canal+ kicks in coin for top soccer games

Canal+ Netherlands has inked a five-year, 145 million guilder ($73 million) deal that gives it rights to broadcast live on pay TV all Premiere League or Honor League soccer games in Holland.

The rights were freed up last December when the Dutch sports channel Sport 7 went bankrupt. Canal+ struck the deal with Eredivisie NV (Honor Division NV), an independent arm of the Dutch soccer league KNVD, which represents the 18 top Dutch soccer teams. The agreement allows Canal+ to broadcast some 68 Honor division games twice a week on weekends during the soccer season.

Dutch soccer rights have been big business since the KNVB last year began auctioning them off to the highest bidder after they had been held by the Dutch public broadcasting system for decades. The rights went last year to the consortium, which launched Sport 7 for $630 million, but the station went belly-up after it failed to attract enough viewers.

The Dutch public broadcaster NOS holds rights to broadcast soccer highlights from the Premiere or Honor division games, and both RTL 4 and SBS 6 hold other packages of soccer rights, but the live Premiere League or Honor League rights are considered the most coveted in Holland.

“Except for games of national importance, such as the World Cup, Canal+ has now sewed up the bulk of the Honor League rights — the most important teams and the most important games in this country,” a spokesperson for Canal+ told Daily Variety.

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