TV rights battle rages with £200m offer to broadcast all Bristol City and Bristol Rovers games live

Streaming platform DAZN was reportedly involved in bidding for the EFL TV rights package that would see all 1,656 matches, meaning all Bristol City and Bristol Rovers games, broadcast live.

The EFL is considering looking to end the Saturday 3pm blackout when the new rights package starts in 2024/25, which would allow fans to watch all Championship, League One and League Two games live .

Sky Sports has the rights to broadcast until 2024, showing 138 games live, the vast majority of which involve Championship clubs. City have been on Sky several times this season, both in featured coverage and red button screenings, while Gas were featured live by the broadcaster for the first time in over five years as they took on Sheffield Wednesday. in Hillsborough in October.

Rovers aren’t the only ones who feel underrepresented by Sky’s EFL coverage, which generates £119m a year to distribute between leagues. Just 20 League One games were broadcast live last season, with just 10 in League Two, meaning 26 clubs never went live on TV during the campaign.

The EFL, of course, operates its streaming service iFollow, which gives domestic fans access to some games, while international supporters are not subject to the blackout and can watch all matches live online.

The current setup has left member clubs and EFL bosses believing there is untapped potential in broadcast revenue, leading to exploring the concept of making all games available to fans.

According to the Daily Mail, DAZN has launched a £200 million a year offer to broadcast all EFL games live on its app. The platform operates in multiple markets, including Italy, Japan, Germany and the United States, while its UK service focuses primarily on boxing, with the heavyweight return of Anthony Joshua on Saturday among its main offerings.

Sky Sports, BT Sport and Norwegian provider Viaplay, which owns the UK television rights to Euro 2024 qualifying matches from many nations including Scotland, are also believed to have entered the bidding process. DAZN is reportedly open-minded about not having exclusive rights to be able to show all the games live, which means that multiple providers could broadcast the matches at the same time.

That’s exactly what’s been agreed for the upcoming Indian Premier League cricket season, with Sky Sports and DAZN showing all games live in the UK.

Speaking on the What The Footie podcast earlier this month, Rovers CEO Tom Gorringe said Rovers are in favor of exploring new broadcast options, including ending the 3pm blackout.

“I think when we initially moved to iFollow, there was very strong opposition against streaming, never mind the 3pm blackout; I think there was a fear that it would reduce attendance and people would choose to stream the games,” Gorringe said. “My personal opinion is that that is not the case – if the fans can make it to the game, they will. If they can’t, most of the time, and they can pass it on, they will.

“We have generated a great amount of income through iFollow in the last two seasons. One of the ‘benefits’ of Covid was that it helps supporters get used to that process and obviously we are seeing digital transmission across sport change dramatically.

“I think it will probably change in the next few years. I think that those who are against the arguments have diminished in recent years and I don’t think there are any valid ones that I know of.

“I think we’re probably going to see some pretty strong changes in the next few years in terms of broadcasting and how fans watch games, not just in this country but around the world.

“The strange thing about us, right now, is that fans in this country can’t watch our games at 3:00 pm on Saturdays, but fans in other countries can, and all of that leads to piracy as the people find illegitimate ways to watch the game when in reality most of them would be more comfortable with that money going to football clubs.”

City’s position on the blackout and the future of broadcasting is unknown, but the club has shown significant commitment to broadcasting via its Robins TV platform.

The 3pm blackout has been in place for more than half a century and was designed to protect crowds at the games, but there is a growing sense that the regulations are out of date.

If the EFL seeks to remove the restrictions, it would have to convince the Football Association, which would have to obtain a waiver from UEFA to allow matches to be broadcast at 3pm in the UK.


Leave a Reply