EFL opens new revenue stream with live-streaming service

The English Football League, which operates the three club divisions below the top-tier Premier League, is to launch a new live-streaming and content platform for overseas fans.

The iFollow 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. 

The live-streaming service will be available from the start of 2017-18. 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 EFL said 61 of its 72 clubs had signed up for the service. The 11 that opted against signing up were Newcastle United, which has since secured promotion to the Premier League, as well as second-tier Championship clubs Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bristol City, Derby County, Fulham, Leeds United, Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers, third-tier League One club Charlton Athletic and fourth-tier League Two club Accrington Stanley.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “The new iFollow platform represents a potentially significant new revenue stream for clubs, while enabling enhanced engagement with existing fans now living abroad.

“iFollow will also present the EFL with an important opportunity to stimulate the interest of new groups of supporters who follow our clubs overseas, which in turn will help support the growth of our competitions on the international stage.”

The platform has been developed by video technology company NeuLion and UK-based digital agency Realise, which sealed a partnership with the EFL last July.

Fans in the UK and Ireland will be granted access to live audio commentary, highlights and exclusive content. The new platform has been rebranded to replace the EFL’s current PlayerHD service.

Most recent

The English Premier League effectively softened its opposition to joint bids in its 2019-20 to 2021-22 rights sale in the Caribbean, agreeing a deal with a company specifically set up for the acquisition by telco Cable & Wireless Communications and mobile operator Digicel, the two main players in the region.

Match-choice restrictions placed by Spain’s LaLiga on the free-to-air package in its UK and Ireland rights tenders for the 2019-22 cycle may limit interest from broadcasters, according to industry experts spoken to by SportBusiness Media.

Pay-television broadcaster BT Sport took advantage of Sky’s long-running concerns over wrestling body WWE’s OTT service to grab WWE rights in the UK and Ireland from its rival at a steep discount, SportBusiness Media understands.

As TikTok has grown into one of the world's most popular social-media apps during the past year, the short-form video-sharing platform has become an important tool for sports rights-holders to expand and engage their fanbases.