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Report: DAZN bids for all EFL rights in UK and abroad

Deal would lead to the Saturday 3pm blackout being axed.

30 March 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • DAZN wants to stream all 1,656 EFL matches per season
  • Sky, TNT Sports, Amazon, Apple and Viaplay all reportedly circling deal
  • EFL would be open to hybrid option involving more than one broadcaster

Sports media company DAZN is bidding to show every English Football League (EFL) match live in the UK and globally, according to The Times.

Should it succeed, the deal would reportedly lead to the end of the UK’s Saturday 3pm TV blackout, with all 1,656 games per season across the second, third and fourth tiers of English soccer being made available to DAZN subscribers.

Under the existing contract, the EFL makes 138 games and the playoffs available to its incumbent broadcast partner Sky Sports. With that deal expiring, the EFL issued a request for proposal (RFP) document to interested parties last year, stating nothing is off the table – including the removal of Article 48 of Uefa’s statutes which prevents any match from being shown in the UK between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on a Saturday.

The EFL told SportsPro at the time the RFP was issued that it wants to explore a partnership with a mainstream streaming platform, especially given their ability to reach a more youthful demographic.

Comcast-owned Sky is currently paying approximately UK£119 million (US$147 million) per year for its broadcast partnership until the end of the 2023/24 season. The Daily Mail reported last month that the EFL is seeking a new rights deal worth more than UK£200 million (US$247 million) annually and competition among broadcasters is believed to be fierce. As well as DAZN, Sky, Viaplay, Apple and BT Sport, which is rebranding as TNT Sports from July, have all been linked with the EFL deal. The auction is expected to conclude this summer.

According to The Times, the EFL is open to a hybrid option, which would see more than one platform show matches, including a terrestrial broadcaster.

DAZN is said to be seeking a deal that would run for at least five years and would be prepared to share some games, but would like to be the main hub for EFL globally. It is unclear at this point what such an arrangement would mean for the iFollow product, which allows teams to sell select matches to fans directly.

DAZN recently introduced its first UK linear channel on Sky’s pay-TV platform, offering the traditional broadcast outlet that would likely be essential to delivering the EFL contract.

The I newspaper also reports that DAZN will follow up its promise to bid for Premier League domestic rights when broadcasters are likely to be invited to tender later this year. Sky, BT and Amazon are in the first season of their UK£4.8 billion (US$6 billion) deal with English soccer’s top flight which expires at the end of the 2024/25 campaign.

Shay Segev, DAZN’s chief executive, told The Times in February that landing domestic Premier League rights is a “high priority” for the company.

Sources close to DAZN told SportsPro that the company wants to “work in partnership with the EFL and their clubs to help grow the reach and value of their competitions” and feels the league is “underexposed”.

The sources added that the deal “would create equal billing for all 72 clubs, allowing them to grow their fanbases and commercial revenues”.

“All recent evidence points to the more matches that are broadcast the better it is for attendances,” the sources continued.

“[It] could help close the gap with the Premier League – which is good for the whole league structure.

“The platform is uniquely placed to help clubs target the next generation of fans with its digital and social capabilities.”

SportsPro says…

DAZN is the latest streaming service to reportedly throw its hat in the ring for EFL rights, joining Apple and Viaplay.

Should the Saturday 3pm blackout be ditched, it will mark a seismic change in how English soccer is broadcast in the country and present a dilemma for the EFL. The extra rights revenue will be warmly received but clubs could lose matchday income, which remains a vital money maker for teams lower down the pyramid.

For DAZN, landing the EFL, and potentially the Premier League, would help establish itself in its home market, having primarily relied on boxing up to this point. The EFL may lack the broad appeal of the Premier League but it consists of 72 clubs and its reach should not be dismissed.

Nevertheless, the EFL will welcome all the interest as it seeks to get the best deal for its clubs that are struggling to recover from the damaging financial impact of the pandemic.

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