The English Football League (EFL) second-tier soccer structure has today (October 12) begun the domestic media rights tender process for 2024-25 onwards.
It has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from parties interested in snapping up rights to the 1,891 matches contained in the three-tier EFL league structure, the EFL Cup, the EFL Trophy, and all end-of-season playoffs.
The EFL is currently in the fourth season of a five-year tie-up with Sky, the UK pay-television heavyweight, which expires at the end of 2023-24.
It has said that it “is taking a fresh and new approach to this latest rights cycle, inviting proposals that embrace innovation and offer contemporary solutions that cater for changing audience habits.”
This is given particular relevance when considering a report today from the Daily Mail indicating that the soccer body is laying the groundwork to end the existing UK TV coverage blackout from 2:45PM and 5:15PM on a Saturday.
The Mail has said the EFL is set to make all games available to media networks for a live broadcast from 2024-25 onwards, including the vast majority of fixtures set at the traditional time of 3PM on a Saturday afternoon. The blackout for games at that time has been in place since the 1960s.
It has been reported that the EFL believes taking such measures will result in a more financially lucrative deal than the current tie-up.
There are no details in the RFP as to the desired contract length or the set number of matches that should be shown, with the EFL keeping its options open.
Media giants such as Facebook, Netflix, Google, Apple, and Amazon are expected to be among the firms being targeted by the EFL in an attempt to drive up the price of rights through a bidding war.
Amazon already covers live action from English soccer's top-tier Premier League.
The present Sky-EFL deal was struck in September 2017 and, at the time, was valued at £600 million ($791 million) in total.
It covers the second-tier Championship, third-tier League One, and fourth-tier League Two, as well as the aforementioned knockout cup competitions.
In total, 138 games per year are included in that agreement – a total that at the time many of the better-supported Championship clubs believed should be higher.
Bidders for the new rights cycle must send their responses to the EFL by 5PM on November 21, and interested parties should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for full details.
Wright, the EFL’s chief commercial officer, said: “Whilst the appetite for EFL soccer remains stronger than ever, we want to grow this audience further. We are inviting proposals from organizations that can enhance and develop the league’s offering, taking a new and innovative approach to how people consume EFL content.
“Alongside the EFL’s rich tradition and distinguished history there is a desire to evolve, grow and innovate in order to grow our audience further and we’re looking for a partner or partners who share that vision.”
Any removal of the 3PM blackout rule would have to come via an exemption from European soccer’s governing body UEFA, through an application from the EFL to the English Football Association and then onto UEFA.
This upcoming weekend, eight of the 12 Championship fixtures are set to take place on Saturday (October 15) at 3PM.
Aside from Sky's coverage of the EFL, individual clubs can also show games on their own specific version of the iFollow service, with this innovation brought in ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
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