Sky Sports secures 'revolutionary' deal to live-stream midweek EFL fixtures

Sky Bet Championship celebration

Sky Sports has signed a new deal with the English Football League in a transformative agreement defined by its objective livestream 80 games.

From the 2019/20 season until 2024, the broadcaster will air some 183 matches live annually across the Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One, Sky Bet League Two, Carabao Cup and Checkatrade Trophy tournaments – this stands as a 26% increase on its current deal with the sports body.

However, Sky Sports will also livestream 80 midweek Championship fixtures throughout the season across “interactive and digital platforms”. A Sky Sports spokesman confirmed that the platforms where the games will be available are yet to be set in stone, although any strategy likely feature the red button service and website.

The games will likely only be available to subscribers although certain content could run on social media. Further to that, the games will also be available on the EFL's streaming service iFollow.

The desire to distribute matches across online and digital reflects the changing needs of the consumer, Adrian Pettett, chief executive of Cake, the Havas sport and entertainment agency, expands on this, he said: “This is a directional deal in terms of the way Sky is integrating streaming in to its offer. The broadcaster needs football, both in terms of breadth and depth. It has a Premier League vertical and this is about building its content for the Sky Football channel, which - as obvious as its sounds - needs a great deal of football. Streaming allows viewers to watch when and where they want.

“Amazon and other tech platforms are moving in to sport. This shows how serious Sky takes the issue of protecting its position as the leading football media brand.”

Sky Sports recently restructured its offering to reflect fan demand for select sports, Barney Francis, Sky Sports managing director, the deal would help build out its Football channel. “This is great news for EFL fans and our viewers, with more live games than ever before and more opportunities for fans to watch their teams live. With a new dedicated football channel, newly enhanced digital platforms, adding more games means Sky Sports is getting even better for football fans.”

Shaun Harvey, EFL chief executive, dubbed Sky Sports a “hugely important” partner and touted the financial security from securing a half decade deal.

He touted the benefits of live-streaming: “The new opportunity for EFL Clubs to live-stream their matches through a direct to consumer service in the UK is a revolutionary and exciting step forward for football broadcasting rights in the UK and we will monitor its progress closely to determine how this model can be considered for future EFL rights cycles.”

It appears to have been a competitive brokering process. He concluded: “I would like to thank all those who submitted bids.” One of those rivals was predictably BT Sport.

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