Canal Plus kicks off sports web setup

Channel to be put in place next September

PARIS — After nine months of preparation, Canal Plus Group chairman Pierre Lescure and chief operating officer Denis Olivennes have given the greenlight to launch a new sports channel.

Web will help the French pay TV group capitalize on its wide-ranging sports rights, which include soccer, tennis and Formula One events.

Channel, to be put in place next September, will be housed by pay TV network Canal Plus and its satellite affiliate CanalSatellite. Canal Plus said it intends to call the new sports arm La Chaine Sport (the Sports Channel) or Sport+, which is also the name of its sports-rights holding outfit.

Canal Plus inked a deal in May to merge Sport+ with the sports rights division of Bertelsmann’s European broadcasting unit RTL and French media concern J.C. Decaux.

The annual sales of Sport+ come to 570 million euros ($514.1 million), half of which is derived from the sale of rights for sporting events to TV channels.

In January, Canal Plus sold its stake in Euromedia to leading French web TF1, effectively removing the last antitrust barrier to the launch of its proposed sports web.

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