The English Football League (EFL) has opened bidding for its international broadcast rights from 2024-25 through 2028-29.
Following the record domestic deal signed with Sky Sports, this presents an opportunity for media companies in the United States. They have the chance to acquire a significant portion of the product’s content.
Domestic Deal Sets Foundation for International Growth
With over 1,000 domestic matches set to be broadcast by Sky Sports, the EFL has more content than ever before. This creates the potential for hundreds more EFL matches to be available in the US market.
Currently, the minimum number of EFL matches per season on US television is 182. With Sky Sports now airing over 1,000 matches domestically, it’s reasonable to expect international broadcast partners will gain access to many more games.
Projecting the scope of EFL International Rights Package
The number of Championship matches made available in the US could potentially double from the 147 currently on ESPN+. Instead of a minimum of 20 League One and League Two matches, there could be 50-75 matches or more.
Full midweek fixture rounds, playoff games, and expanded League Cup and EFL Trophy coverage provide opportunities to significantly grow the package size.
A 50-75% increase in EFL matches on US television would not be surprising during the next rights cycle.
It’s predicted that the minimum number will grow from 182 matches to 275 annually. This would give soccer fans in the US almost 100 more EFL games to enjoy. For context, a Premier League season has 380 total matches.
At a potential 300+ games per season, the EFL package would approach the number of Bundesliga (306) and La Liga (380) matches available in the US market. Having a high volume of content from England’s iconic league system would appeal to broadcasters.
Segmenting Rights to Increase Exposure
The growth to over 1,000 domestic matches also allows the EFL to segment its packages by competition. For example, Championship broadcast rights are likely heading to a streaming service like ESPN+.
League One and Two rights could theoretically go to CBSSports/Paramount while the Carabao Cup could be picked up by a network broadcaster like NBC/Peacock to complement its Premier League coverage.
There is also an opportunity to air games across both linear TV and streaming. Simulcasting select matches would satisfy traditional cable/satellite subscribers while also serving cord-cutters.
EFL and Premier League to potentially bundle rights in the future
Upon completion of the next EFL contract, the EFL and Premier League plan to bundle their international media rights together. This would massively increase the number of matches available overseas.
This would see the number of matches available to overseas broadcasters skyrocket from the current 380 Premier League games to over 2,000 matches encompassing the Premier League, Championship, League One, and League Two.
Bringing the English soccer pyramid under one media rights deal will generate more revenue for lower league clubs and drive increased exposure for the EFL competitions.
For American fans, this bundled deal will make following the entire English league system easier than ever before. The EFL and Premier League combining media rights has the potential to transform access to English soccer in overseas markets.
Outlook for US Soccer Fans
Ultimately, the size and scope of the international rights depend on the EFL’s strategic goals. But the foundation is set for there to be substantially more English Football League matches available in the United States starting from the 2024-25 season.
For American fans seeking more soccer, the next EFL international deal will be one to watch. Whoever acquires the rights will have a content-rich package that caters to supporter demand — and potentially lots of it.
Photo credit: IMAGO / News Images
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