Sports streaming giant DAZN has launched a bid to broadcast every single EFL fixture in a move that would signal the end of the 3pm blackout at football league level.
DAZN has 20 million subscribers across the globe but is best known for its boxing offering in the UK, having hooked up with Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom last year. Its move for EFL rights is the start of a major push into English football that it hopes will “super-size” the company.
i understands DAZN will also follow up its promise to bid for Premier League rights when broadcasters are likely to be invited to tender later this year, pitting it against the traditional giants of sports broadcasting like Sky and TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport).
DAZN has tabled a “significant” offer for global rights to the EFL from the 2024-25 season as part of the league’s planned overhaul of coverage. Its rivals include newcomers Viaplay and Sky Sports and the EFL is currently sifting through bids before presenting its preferred options to clubs, who would then get to vote.
The most eye-catching part of the proposal is ending the 3pm blackout which prevents any footage of games being shown between 2.45pm and 5.15pm every Saturday. It has been in place for 60 years and proponents, which includes many EFL clubs, argue it preserves match-going culture and crucial revenue.
That is sure to be controversial but DAZN believe it is not fit for purpose and, if picked by the EFL as a preferred bidder, it will send a message to clubs that it is holding them back.
One source described the blackout as “medieval” and said a younger generation of supporters were being turned off by not being able to watch their clubs.
The streaming giant firmly believes that Saturday crowds wouldn’t be hit by matches being available to stream and pointed out that illegal streams are readily available and clubs were missing out on significant revenue.
Indeed DAZN’s play to the EFL and its clubs is that its product is significantly underexposed and its bid would transform the league and offer all 72 teams a platform, whilst also allowing them to “close the gap” on the Premier League in terms of revenue streams.
It would be open to partnering with another broadcaster, which could even be a terrestrial station like the BBC or ITV who would offer games for free in primetime slots.
DAZN’s coverage would include beefed up behind-the-scenes footage, watchalongs, stats, in-play betting and vastly superior camera angles and production values than the basic iFollow service for which clubs currently charge £10 a game. It would also launch an EFL version of the NFL’s “RedZone”, a show that would enable viewers to watch every goal as it goes in.
Sources said the pricing would be “competitive”, with a monthly fee for subscribers giving access to every single league game. It would broadly want to stick with Saturday 3pm for all games but would stick with Sky’s model of moving a handful of games to showcase the bigger fixtures every week.
It will be fascinating to see how DAZN’s proposed revolution goes down with the 72 clubs, who all have vastly differing priorities, and supporters. Although the EFL has been open about ending the blackout some clubs believe that would be disastrous and the Football Supporters’ Association still support it.
Other clubs are raking in substantial revenue through iFollow and will want to know if their cut of the new deal will replace that before voting in favour.
DAZN clearly feels that it can help market the league to a new generation of supporter – both at home and abroad – which would make it more appealing to sponsors.
The bidding process is understood to have ended and the EFL intends to have the next broadcasting model settled soon, maybe even before the start of next season. The league is hoping to significantly increase the value of its rights to close to £200m-a-year which is double the current value.