EFL broadens digital revenue streams with launch of live streaming platform

The iFollow platform will launch for the start of the 2017/18 EFL season

The English Football League is strengthening its digital revenue streams with the launch of a new live streaming platform for overseas fans.

The iFollow service will provide coverage of the Championship, League One and League Two games EFL fans based outside the UK and Ireland.

Kicking off at the start of the 2017/18 EFL season, overseas subscribers will pay the equivalent of £110 per season for the service which will provide coverage of up to 46 live games per club. More than 1,500 matches will be available in HD quality, with iFollow showing every EFL league match live unless that match has been selected by the EFL’s overseas broadcast partners.

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

He added: "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."

Thus far 61 of 72 EFL clubs have signed up for the service with the remaining 11 teams; including Aston Villa, Bristol City, Queens Park Rangers, retaining the right to stream via their own digital providers.

Research commissioned by the EFL highlighted the demand for a service like iFollow among international fans. A survey of over 1,600 such fans showed that 73% would be very likely or quite likely to subscribe to a live match streaming service and almost half would be happy to pay an annual subscription fee to do so. The findings suggest over 55% of the EFL’s fans are located in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Robin Clarke, global head of Publicis Media Sport & Entertainment, described the new platform as a "great innovation from the EFL".

He said: "Creating and owning the platform will allow full control of the data flow and content management. The EFL will be able to see every working part of the engine which is vital in how the product can continually evolve.

“For the wider market place it is another stake in the ground for rights holders in the pivot to OTT platforms - especially those that have strong domestic products but have struggled to drive real revenue internationally through traditional broadcasters.”

The EFL has taken steps in recent years to strengthen clubs digital connectivity to maximise their commercial potential, sparking fears that live streaming is now a ticking time bomb as far as established sports broadcasters are concerned.

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