Sky, English Football League Agree To Five-Year, £600M Broadcasting Deal
Sky struck a £600M ($796.9M) broadcasting deal with the English Football League, according to Murad Ahmed of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The agreement will also allow clubs to livestream matches "directly to fans from their own websites." Under the five-year deal that begins in '19, Sky will screen "up to 150 matches each season" from the EFL's professional divisions below the Premier League. Games from the playoffs, EFL Cup and EFL Trophy are also included. The EFL said that the deal represented a year-on-year increase of 36% on its current broadcasting deal with Sky. The agreement also allows EFL clubs to stream matches live "when they are not broadcast by Sky and are played outside the blocked window timed just before 3pm on Saturday when games traditionally kick off." EFL CEO Shaun Harvey said, "The new opportunity for EFL cubs to livestream their matches through a direct to consumer service in the U.K. is a revolutionary and exciting step forward for football broadcasting rights in the U.K. and we will monitor its progress closely to determine how this model can be considered for future EFL rights cycles" (FT, 9/12). BLOOMBERG's David Hellier reported League Championship side Derby County has been "vocal in pushing for a more lucrative deal" with Sky, arguing that the rights are worth closer to £300M ($398.5M) a year. Derby wanted the rights to be packaged "to attract a higher valuation." The club argued that EFL matches are "watched on average by one-third of the audience that watch the Premier League, but attract 20 times less value" from the existing TV deal (BLOOMBERG, 9/12). The BBC reported the existing EFL TV deal runs through the end of the '18-19 campaign and is worth £88.3M ($117.28M) per season. The BBC's Simon Stone commented the EFL remains "confident midweek attendances will hold up despite the wider availability of fixtures following Tuesday's announcement." In the winter months particularly, "lots of long distance games are played in midweek." Away fans willing to undertake those trips are "unlikely to be put off by an ability to watch them on a live stream." In addition, as Sky has no access to broadcast European games until at least '21, the midweek slots offer it "the chance to screen live football" (BBC, 9/12).
NOT FOLLOWING SUIT: In London, Ben Rumsby reported the Premier League is "unlikely to follow" the EFL's lead by making entire midweek rounds of matches available live in the U.K. Premier League clubs meet next month to discuss their own U.K. TV contract for the '19-22 seasons, under which "at least 190 games -- potentially even more than 200 -- will be made available live." But there are "unlikely to be enough matches sold to allow for entire midweek rounds to be shown," with many of the extra 22-plus games expected to be divided up among new Saturday night or Sunday slots. The Premier League has also committed to selling its rights to more than one broadcaster, "something that would complicate any attempt to allow all 20 clubs to be shown in one or more round of games" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12).