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Altice keeps RMC Sport in its fold to preserve SFR

Altice keeps RMC Sport in its fold to preserve SFR

Altice France, Patrick Drahi’s group, is not going to sell all of its television channels to CMA CGM. While BFM-TV, BFM Business, BFM Régions, RMC Découverte and RMC Story will be taken over in the coming months by the Saadé family shipowner, once regulatory authorizations have been obtained, according to the agreement unveiled on March 15, RMC Sport remain within the fold of Altice France.

This exception, mentioned by The Team on March 16, is explained by the importance of this channel for SFR, Patrick Drahi’s telecoms operator. Created in 2016, RMC Sport serves above all as a commercial bait to gain mobile (4G/5G) and fixed line (ADSL, fiber optic) subscribers, or to prevent them from leaving for a competing operator. “Recruiting, managing, invoicing and retaining pay TV customers is similar to being a telecoms operator and this requires significant customer service tools”,develops the direction of Altice, in response to an article from The letter.

The group has never given official figures, but RMC Sport has around a million customers, a large proportion of which come from SFR. A significant base considering the 20 million mobile subscribers and the 6.4 million fixed-line subscribers that the operator has. “Many customers have these channels included in their subscription (…). Our challenge is to preserve our share, to prevent us from having churn (churn rate) which would be linked to the fact that the chain stops without us controlling the calendar”recognized Benjamin Haziza, the financial director of Altice France, on March 19, during a social and economic committee.

The advantage of MMA

If RMC Sport were to stop, SFR customers who have the channel in their package would find themselves immediately freed from all their commitments to the operator and could therefore go to the competition for free. A risk of leakage that the operator wishes to avoid as it has been losing subscribers every quarter for a year and a half.

By keeping RMC Sport in its fold, SFR continues to take care of the purchases of sports rights and content, the management of the technical interface and the sale of the channel to its subscribers. On the other hand, the audiovisual production will be at CMA CGM, which will then resell this service to SFR. A brand license paid to the new owner, at a price not yet finalized, will allow Patrick Drahi’s group to continue to use the RMC name.

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In 2017, to establish itself in the landscape, RMC Sport offered itself, for 350 million euros, three seasons of the Champions Football League exclusively. In 2020, it signed an agreement with Canal+ to broadcast part of the matches. But Altice France has never managed to make this investment profitable. Since its creation, Sportsco TV, the subsidiary which publishes RMC Sport, has accumulated nearly 900 million euros in losses, according to data published at the commercial court registry. “We would have liked to be able to market RMC Sport to other operators to minimize the level of losses. The reality is that we have not been able to reach an agreement”, regretted Benjamin Haziza in front of the staff representatives. RMC Sport was thus inaccessible directly via the Orange, Bouygues Telecom and Free boxes.

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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