EFL ties up £600m Sky deal and opens up live streaming market in UK

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By Paul Nicholson

September 13 – Sky and the English Football League (EFL) have agreed a five-year £600 million broadcasting deal starting with the 2019/20 season.

The rights buy which covers the 72 clubs in the EFL’s three divisions, also includes renews agreements covering the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy and the three leagues’ promotional play-offs until May 2024.

New to the deal will be clubs’ right to livestream matches to UK fans from their own websites if Sky is not broadcasting that match.

Matches played between 14:45 and 17:15 on Saturdays will be blocked from live streaming, but the new clause allows clubs to open up potential mid-week revenue streams. Sky will now have access to a significant inventory of mid-week football. The broadcaster does not hold rights to the European club competitions that are played mid-week.

Sky will have rights to broadcast a maximum of 150 EFL games per season, including 16 midweek Championship matches and a minimum of 20 League One and League Two games. The new deal is an increase in value from the current £88.3 million per season, to £120 million per season – a 36% increase.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “These negotiations came at what was an incredibly challenging period in the sale and acquisition of sports rights in the UK and, having fully tested the market, we believe that not only has a significant increase in value for our Clubs been achieved, but also the very best deal, with the best partner has been delivered.

“In agreeing a deal over five seasons, it delivers a guaranteed increase in the level of income distributed to EFL Clubs from 2019/20 and long-term financial certainty was an absolute priority throughout this process.”

An important component of the deal was the ability to open up the EFL’s OTT platform in the UK. Launched this season using NeuLion’s streaming platform, the iFollow service allows overseas fans to pay to watch their clubs if that match is not being broadcast in their national market.

Over the season iFollow will stream more than 1,500 matches. 61 of the EFL’s 72 clubs are on the platform.

“The new opportunity for EFL Clubs to live-stream their matches through a direct to consumer service in the UK is a revolutionary and exciting step forward for football broadcasting rights in the UK and we will monitor its progress closely to determine how this model can be considered for future EFL rights cycles,” said Harvey.

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