Canal Plus nabs Dutch soccer rights

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

The rights were freed up last December when the Dutch sports channel Sport7 went bankrupt. Canal Plus struck the deal with Eredivisie NV (Honor Division NV), an independent arm of the Dutch soccer league Kanal NVB, which represents the 18 top Dutch soccer teams. The agreement allows Canal Plus to broadcast some 68 Honor Division games during the soccer season.

Dutch soccer rights have been big business for the KNVB since it began auctioning them off last year after they had been held by the Dutch public broadcasting system for decades. Last year, the rights went to the consortium which launched Sport7 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 games and both RTL 4 and SBS6 hold other packages of soccer rights, but the live broadcast rights are considered the most coveted in Holland. “Except for games of national importance, such as the World Cup, Canal Plus 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 Plus said.

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