He will soon give up his chair as chairman of the management board of the M6 ​​group. In the meantime, Nicolas de Tavernost retains his position as attacker. The proof: the leader has officially just won under the nose of TF1 not one, but two Football World Cups. M6 has acquired from Fifa the exclusivity of the free-to-air matches of the 2026 Football World Cup organized from June to July in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It has also regained the rights to broadcast the unencrypted matches of the 2030 World Cup, this time scheduled for Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

The broadcaster played a very nice move. He has just taken into his hands the rights to 54 of the most beautiful posters of each competition which will now include 104 matches in total, compared to 64 for previous editions. In other words, M6 hit the jackpot, getting its hands on 108 matches.

Quite a performance for the channel which struggled for a long time before managing to get a foothold in TV rights for football. The first football match broadcast on M6 was the Trophée des Champions, at the end of the 1980s. Sub-licensed to the “little channel that is rising” by… TF1.

Also read: Why M6 will continue to focus on good old TV

For his competitor, who this time leaves empty-handed, it is a massive blow. Since the creation of the channel in 1975, the front page has always broadcast the prestigious competition. Question of image and prestige for the leader of French television. On January 10, when FIFA launched its call for tenders for the acquisition of broadcasts of the 2026 and 2030 Football World Cups, the Bouygues subsidiary naturally positioned itself. But she did not want to outbid, believing that the proposal put on the table by another competitor was too high.

However, M6 is not known for being an expensive group. Nicolas de Tavernost regularly laughs at the reputation of being a cheapskate that sticks to his company. “Burning the fund”? Not really in the habits of the house or of the shareholder, Bertelsmann, who after prior discussions, necessarily validated the amount of the operation. According to a source close to the matter, the offer submitted by M6 to Fifa would be “entirely reasonable” for this type of competition and the number of matches, double what was previously marketed. For comparison, the front page had bought the rights to the 28 best matches of the Football World Cup organized in Qatar in 2022, for a price estimated between 70 and 80 million euros.

Some market players speculate that TF1, in reality, was taken by surprise. They didn’t see the blow coming. In recent years, for eminently economic reasons, TF1 and M6 had rather decided to play collectively, when this was possible in terms of competition. The two broadcasters have purchased several competitions together. They shared the meetings of the French football team. TF1 sublicensed several matches from the last Rugby World Cup to M6 and France Télévisions, to reduce its bill. The two private channels have also shared the broadcasting rights for the next Euro 2024 football tournament and will broadcast 25 of the 51 matches in the competition this summer.

But for some time now, TF1 seems to have changed gear and put an end to its policy of pooling major sporting events. The subsidiary of the Bouygues group has gone it alone on several occasions and seems less willing to share the spoils of its TV rights. Two years ago, it announced the exclusive acquisition of the rights to the French football team until 2028. The broadcaster also claimed exclusivity for unencrypted Euro 2028 matches. obviously drew the conclusions. The era of partnership being over, when Fifa launched the call for tenders, M6 went on the offensive by positioning itself where it was not necessarily expected: on the two Football World Cups.

M6 could very well broadcast all 54 matches of each World Cup on its channels and its new M6 streaming platform, which will be launched on May 15. As sporting events remain expensive despite everything, Nicolas de Tavernost’s group could otherwise resell part of them to TF1 or other broadcasters. This decision will fall to his successor, David Larramendy, the current head of the M6 ​​group’s advertising management, who will take over the reins of the company on April 23.

In the meantime, M6 can savor its victory, which surprised even its shareholder Bertelsmann. By sending TF1 to the sidelines potentially until 2030, Nicolas de Tavernost has just reminded those who had forgotten that his group still plays in the first division.