The House View – The winners and losers from the new EFL broadcast deal
May 10, 2023
You look at the price and you think ‘wow’. That is a lot of money for EFL rights.
Sky have paid £935 million for five years of EFL broadcast rights, starting in 2024-25, an increase of 50% on the last deal. Over the length of the contract they will be broadcasting 1,059 matches a season, up from the 138 games they broadcast at the moment.
The Fans – EFL fans have been starved of the opportunity to watch their team from the comfort of their armchair since what feels like – for them at least – the dawn of time. Most of them will remember the dark days and late nights when the EFL Highlights Show was on after Match of the Day on BBC.
This new deal will see six games across the three divisions broadcast every weekend on Sky Sports, or through a red-button streaming service. As a fan of a team who found themselves in the EFL for a few seasons, the frustration of a lack of TV games was real and the chance to regularly watch my team at home or in pub is a benefit for fans.
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The EFL and the clubs – To quote the Harry Enfield sketch they now have “loadsamoney”. As mentioned above this deal is worth £935 million for the next five years. Clubs will benefit massively from this sudden injection of cash as well. Championship clubs will see a TV revenue increase of 46% and League One and Two clubs will get a 25% increase. You will not be surprised to hear that the clubs voted unanimously in favour of the new deal.
The EFL clubs will hope this closes the gap between themselves and the Premier League. Over the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of clubs getting relegated from the Premier League only to get promoted the next season, Burnley, Fulham and Norwich City are all recent examples.
Sky – Sky was already the dominant broadcaster of domestic football in the UK with the Premier League, the EFL and the SPFL, but with this move they have truly stamped their authority on British football.
On your average League weekend, Sky will be showing nine games through their different slots and ten during the week, including Monday Night Football, compared to one Premier League game and one National League game for BT Sport.
Having spent heavily on the EFL rights it will be interesting to see what this means when it comes to the Premier League media rights with the tender process set to start this year. On one side you can say that they might be a bit short of money and maybe this deal is the start of them moving away from Premier League rights. Alternatively, you could argue that if they are prepared to commit this much for EFL rights then how much will they be prepared to pay for the Premier League? It will be interesting to see how this develops over the next few months.
The British Football Pyramid – As a fan of Non-League football this is very important to me, so bare with me here. If the EFL had voted in favour of DAZN’s offer we would have seen an end to the 3pm blackout in the UK. That is the rule that stops matches taking place between 2:45 and 5:15 from being broadcast on television in the UK. It was introduced in 1960 and is designed to protect attendances up and down the football pyramid. It has been reported that the EFL estimated broadcasting all matches would lead to a matchday revenue loss of £37 million.
The Fans – Yes, I can see you now thinking this bloke has lost his mind and forgotten what he wrote a matter of minutes ago. No, as it turns out, I haven’t. While the new deal is no doubt fantastic for the majority of fans, it isn’t good for the season-ticket holders who follow their teams home and away.
Games kicking off at 12:30 on a Saturday makes travel even more of a hassle for fans, particularly on those long away trips. It means early trains, car journeys and even earlier coaches. In some cases it will mean travelling the night before and all the added expenses that come with that.
DAZN – The sports streaming service which launched in 2016 and sent shockwaves through sport by signing a deal with Matchroom Boxing in 2018. Outside of boxing, they are yet to truly establish themselves in the UK with a marquee rights deal. A deal with the EFL giving fans the opportunity to watch their team play every week would have seen subscriptions surge – there can be little doubt about that.
The fact the deal fell through will hurt DAZN, there are only so many UK sports properties that will drive subscribers in a meaningful way. Now, they may decide to enter the Premier League race next year.