EXCLUSIVE: In a stunning turn of events, BAMTech has acquired the US rights to the English Championship and EFL Cup, and has reached a separate agreement with ESPN to have the live and on-demand matches shown by the Worldwide Leader of Sports.
beIN SPORTS will not broadcast the 2017/18 Championship season, and has subsequently removed all of the opening EFL Championship weekend matches from their schedule.
According to an ESPN spokesperson, “Beginning August 4, as part of a separate agreement ESPN reached with BAMTech, ESPN will have live and replay coverage of weekly matches from the EFL. Currently, the plan is for the matches to be carried on ESPN3.”
The confusion arose last week when beIN SPORTS confirmed they were planning on broadcasting the opening weekend of the Championship across both television and their beIN SPORTS Connect streaming platform. But according to beIN SPORTS today, they were instructed to remove the EFL games from all of their schedules. Nevertheless, as of press time, beIN SPORTS’ own website still has Championship listings on their TV guide for this upcoming weekend, which undoubtedly will be updated shortly.
BAMTech is a streaming technology provider that is part owned by MLB, Disney (parent company of ESPN) and the NHL. The technology provider was recently in the news when it was revealed that they bid on the rights for the UEFA Champions League but were beaten by Turner Sports.
An added complexity for the 2017/18 season is that the vast majority of clubs have signed up on a club-by-club basis to offer legal streams of every home and away league game to viewers around the world (outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland). The streaming service, named iFollow, will feature all of the league games for each participating club except for those games that are streamed by ESPN3 in the United States.
To navigate through all of the changes, we recommend that you visit our Championship TV/streaming schedule for viewers in the USA, which will be updated weekly throughout the season with all of the links and TV details to view the matches.
As an example, a Nottingham Forest supporter can sign up for a season pass to iFollow Forest for $140 for the entire season, which will allow him or her to stream every home and away league match during the season. Note, however, that if games are available via ESPN3, they will be blacked out from iFollow, so you’ll need to ensure you have a subscription to a package that includes iFollow and ESPN3 for the Forest games that are shown there.
Several clubs (Birmingham City, Bristol City, Derby County, Fulham, Hull City, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, QPR, Sunderland and Wolves) have decided, as of press time, not to sign up to the iFollow service. If your club is one of those, you’ll need to check with their official club website to see if they’re planning on providing their own streaming service for international subscribers.
For the upcoming season, the Championship will feature several well-supported teams including Aston Villa, Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Middlesbrough and Sunderland. Read our beginners guide to the Championship for more details on one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
Last but not least, it’s anticipated that DAZN will be announced as the rights-holder of EFL Championship games in Canada. DAZN, part of the Perform empire, has seen success as a streaming platform in Germany and Japan. DAZN, pronounced “Da zone,” hopes to become the Netflix of soccer.
Additional reporting by Ed Perovic.