Sky Sports ramps up live football content with new £600 million EFL contract

UK media has reported that Sky UK has secured a five-year £600 million deal, for the exclusive rights to broadcast English Football League (EFL) matches (Championship, League One, and League Two).

Adding new content to its dedicated ‘Sky Sports Football’ channels, the broadcaster details that starting on season 2019/2020 it plans to show up to 183 live EFL syndicated matches.

The new contract will run from 2019-2024, with the EFL reported to have gained a 36% increase on its existing agreement with Sky Sports.

The deal further sees Sky Sports become the exclusive streaming partner for midweek Championship matches which will be broadcast via Sky Sports digital services (desktop, mobile and tablet).

Updating its customers, Sky Sports has detailed that it will aim to stream 80 Sky Bet Championship midweek matches across its interactive platforms. The broadcaster states that the EFL deal will see its total football content increase to 260 live matches across all platforms.

Further deal provisions, will see Sky Sports maintain its position as the lead broadcaster of the Carabao EFL Cup, the Checkatrade EFL Trophy and EFL play-offs until May 2024.

In 2015 Sky Sports secured the rights become the Premier League’s lead broadcaster for 2016-2019 securing a staggering £4.2 billion deal (£10 per broadcasted match). Nevertheless, despite its strong football content Sky UK has seen a significant slowdown in the number of its subscribers and has further detailed 14% decline in live match viewership.

Last June, Sky Sports governance announced a ‘major shake-up’ to its sports scheduling and planning, detailing that it would retire its standard Sky Sports channels in order to focus on new ‘sports themed’ packages for UK digital viewers. Its new strategy has seen Sky Sports launch its sports-centric channels for football (2 dedicated channels), Formula1, Cricket and Golf alongside Sky Sports Arena which will broadcast one-off events.

UK business analysts are keeping a close eye on Sky UK’s expenditure with regards to broadcast rights. With the Premier League up for renegotiation in 2019, a number of industry analysts have detailed that Sky Sports may be challenged by US Tech giants Amazon or Facebook who are beginning to make plays in digital sports streaming. Following its costly acquisition of Premier League 2016-2019 rights, many businesses commentators question whether Sky UK should rethink its longstanding ‘sports-first’ viewer strategy.