April 10, 2019 / 8:00 AM / 9 days ago

UPDATE 1-TF1 wins exclusive French broadcast rights for 2019 Rugby World Cup

* Shares rise, top performer on Paris’ SBF-120 index

* TF1 hoping for decent performance by “Les Bleus”

* But France had a poor recent Six Nations tournament (Adds share price, fund manager comment and detail)

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - French TV group TF1 will exclusively broadcast the 2019 Rugby World Cup in France, it said on Wednesday, lifting the shares of the country’s major TV broadcaster.

“After the success of previous editions, notably during the 2011 final between France and the All Blacks with 17.8 million viewers and 87 percent of audience share, TF1 Group will offer the French audience all 48 matches of the 2019 Rugby World Cup,” TF1 said in a statement.

TF1 shares were up 4.1 percent at 0750 GMT, and were the best performers on Paris’ SBF-120 index, as analysts and fund managers welcomed the contract win.

“Given the sluggishness of the overall advertising market, any bit of good news regarding TV advertising is going to be well received by the market. In that context, winning exclusive rights for the Rugby World Cup - even if it’s not as big as the soccer World Cup - is a good bit of news for TF1,” said Gregoire Laverne, fund manager at Roche Brune Asset Management.

France will go into this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, which takes place from September through to November, on the back of a poor Six Nations tournament.

Jacques Brunel, the coach of “Les Bleus”, believes his team can iron out their problems before the World Cup but another disappointing Six Nations campaign suggested it would be an achievement for them to reach the knockout rounds in Japan.

France beat Scotland and Italy in the Six Nations but were thrashed by England and Ireland, and their second-half collapse against Wales showed their mental fragility. (Additional reporting by Blandine Henault; Editing by Richard Lough and Mark Potter)

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