Beginning with the 2017/18 season, soccer fans of English Football League (EFL) clubs in the United States will be able to watch every single game of their favorite club online.
For soccer fans who have been unable to watch any games of their favorite Football League club, this is a dream come true. In previous seasons, the best that supporters of Football League clubs could hope for is either a deep FA Cup or League Cup run where they team might be shown on television, a few games a season on TV if they played in the Championship, or the slim chance of seeing their team in the Premier League where every match was available.
That means that supporters of clubs from Fulham, Aston Villa to Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and up to 68 other Football League teams will be able to watch every single home and away match. The streaming platform is named iFollow, and supporters will be able to subscribe for the service through their official club website.
The price to subscribe to the streaming service is approximately $141 per season, which equates to $11.75 per month. That’s the equivalent of just over $3 per game for live and exclusive coverage (including on-demand viewing if you miss the live match).
Not only is this a massive step for the EFL, but it’s a revolutionary way for soccer fans to watch their favorite team — by subscribing directly to their club’s matches (each club will receive a percentage of the money generated). The only exception to the live streaming is when a Championship game featuring the teams is shown on television, in which case the live stream from iFollow will be blacked out.
The streams, which will be in HD-quality, will help soccer fans stay connected more closely with their clubs. In previous years, we’ve seen clubs such as Fulham FC lose countless supporters after the club got relegated from the Premier League with no way that American fans could watch the club except for the seldom broadcast once a month or less.
According to an EFL announcement, research suggests over 55% of the EFL’s fans are located in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where the potential audience for the iFollow platform could reach into the hundreds of thousands.
The live streaming of matches will be available from the start of the 2017/18 season in conjunction with a brand new digital presence for clubs via official websites and apps, together creating the largest sporting digital network in the world. US-based company NeuLion, a market leader in online video delivery, whose clients include the NFL, NBA and the Premier League, have developed the integrated streaming service alongside UK company Realise who have built the club websites. The two suppliers were appointed by the EFL in July 2016 following a competitive procurement process.