All change for EFL in North America as international broadcasters revealed

The English Football League, which operates the three club divisions below the top-tier Premier League, has said its competitions will be broadcast into 166 countries for the forthcoming 2017-18 season as new rights partners were unveiled in a host of markets, including the US and Canada.

The news is the result of an international television rights agreement that commences this season and will see the EFL increase its global exposure. The rights have been sold on behalf of the EFL by the Pitch International agency.

Previously announced in 2016, the five-year arrangement guarantees $160m (€139.6m) of revenue, which represents a 68 per cent increase on the previous rights cycle.

Earlier this week, it was reported that pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports had extended its rights deal in the US for at least the 2017-18 season. However, it has now been confirmed that the rights will head to new partners in the form of BAMTech, the video technology business of Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media division, and sports broadcaster ESPN.

The WorldSoccerTalk website said BAMTech has acquired the US rights to the Championship and EFL Cup, and has reached a separate agreement with ESPN to have the live and on-demand matches shown by the sports broadcaster.

An ESPN spokesperson said: “Beginning August 4, as part of a separate agreement ESPN reached with BAMTech, ESPN will have live and replay coverage of weekly matches from the EFL. Currently, the plan is for the matches to be carried on ESPN3.”

Meanwhile, OTT sports subscription service DAZN has been confirmed as the new home of the EFL in Canada. DAZN, which is operated by digital sports media company Perform, last month confirmed it would launch in Canada “this summer” and will be the exclusive home in the country of the NFL American football league’s Game Pass digital subscription package.

Elsewhere, international sports broadcaster Eleven Sports has agreed a new deal with the EFL covering the five seasons from 2017-18 to 2021-22. The five-year deal for Belgium, Luxembourg and Poland follows the original two-season partnership which was agreed before the start of the 2015-16 season.

Eleven will show games delayed and on repeat in addition to a minimum of 55 Championship matches and up to 30 EFL Cup matches exclusively live across linear and OTT channels.

The EFL is also set to debut a new service for 2017-18. The iFollow live-streaming and content platform will allow supporters based outside the UK and Ireland to watch up to 46 live matches per club over the course of the regular season. Subscribers will pay £110 (€130/$141) per season for the service. 

Matches will be available in HD. The platform will show every EFL league match live, unless that match has been selected by the EFL’s overseas broadcast partners.

The 2017-18 Championship season commences tomorrow (Friday) with Sunderland taking on Derby County and Nottingham Forest facing Millwall.