World Cup ad rates runneth over in France

The price of a 30-second ad on TF1 could break records

PARIS -- The Gallic TV ad market is getting a post-financial crisis kick as leading network TF1 is offering advertisers the most expensive commercial rates in French history for the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.

TF1's ad team is asking for unprecedented sums for commercials airing during their primetime matches, provided France's national team -- les Bleus -- performs on the field.

The price of a 30-second ad on TF1 during the final matches, if France makes it to the final, could hike to €351,000 ($481,400), the most expensive in French broadcasting history. If not, the spot will cost €117,000 ($160,500) or €210,600 ($288,800) if France makes it to second place.

A 30-second spot in the semi-finals, if France makes it to that level of play, will cost €200,000 and €175,000 in the quarter finals.

These numbers are significant for the French small screen and show promise after what has been a struggling ad market on both TF1 and other private, ad revenue-based networks.

The World Cup, which will run from June 11-July 11 in South Africa, will be broadcast by TF1, but also public TV group France Televisions and pay TV powerhouse Canal Plus thanks to a new agreement signed by the networks in Paris earlier this week.

TF1 holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the matches, but will sublicense live airing rights to 37 of the 64 games to France Televisions and Canal Plus.

TF1 will have first choice of matches in each phase of the competition, plus the opening and closing ceremonies, all matches featuring the French national soccer team in competition, the two semi-finals, the third and fourth place playoffs and the final.

TF1 also plans to up its ad revenue with a multiplatform World Cup program featuring VOD and MyTF1 formats, talks shows on its main and subsidiary networks Eurosport and LCI. All World Cup matches will re-air on Eurosport.

France Televisions will broadcast 34 matches live on France 2 and France 3 at least eight of which in primetime, and Canal Plus will broadcast the entire competition to its subscribers, including all 64 matches, 37 of which will be shown live, 10 in primetime.