'We need a Spotify for football', says man who doesn't understand Spotify

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas thinks he has found the answer to broadcasting rights deals, but he couldn't be more wrong

11:16am on Wednesday 14th October 2020
Paul Macdonald

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has said that football needs its own 'Spotify' as it looks to diversify from conventional TV deals.

His comments come in the wake of MediaPro's reticence to fulfil their latest Ligue 1 broadcast payment, as they see a 'covid discount' for the league being suspended in March.

Aulas seems put out by this and is ready to sell football on TV to whoever is willing to provide them with the best terms, no matter who it is.

He said to Les Parisiens: Times are changing, we are no longer about selling rights exclusively to TV, but also en masse. Free is making their way (a mobile service).

"Amazon bought some rights in England and Germany. UEFA are also in talks with Alibaba. Large distribution companies could arrive in the game like Netflix, who have the capacity to reach a large audience.

“They would change the rules. But we have to find a much lower price [for the consumer]. We need a Spotify for football or a Deezer for football. We need a unique offering at an attractive price and so that the spectators don’t have to wonder on which channel their match will be on.”

What Aulas essentially wants is the type of deal that rewards the most established clubs with the most global reach and biggest marketing budgets.

A Spotify model, by its very nature, would absolutely obliterate the smaller teams in every league. In order for an artist to be successful they require gigantic scale of audience in order to make it even close to economically viable.

This means that for your indie bands, you can read bottom-half sides in most of Europe's major leagues. In the current situation their share of TV revenue is unequal but workable. With a situation where 'fans' are only encouraged to watch their team, on their terms, the market pivots in a stark manner.

If you don't have to pay to watch all of the games on offer, you probably won't, and while it's more convenient for the consumer it destroys any concept of ability to compete.

A 'Spotify deal' would, in effect, kill the traditional league structure stone dead, taking hundreds of professional football teams with it.


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