EFL TV deal: League willing to consider scrapping Saturday TV blackout

The English Football League is willing to consider scrapping the Saturday 3pm blackout as part of their new TV rights deal from 2024.

However, there is a belief at the EFL that a bigger deal could be secured, amid hopes that streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix and Apple might show an interest.

Under the current agreement, Sky show at least 138 league matches a season as well as every play-off game and the Carabao Cup final.

They also show 14 ties from the earlier rounds of the Carabao Cup and the semi-finals and final of the EFL Trophy.

“Rights for all 1,891 matches across the league, EFL Cup, EFL Trophy and all end of season play-off matches are available for prospective bidders,” said the EFL in a statement.

The rights to those games could not be sold without screening matches between 14:45 and 17:15 on a Saturday, which is currently prohibited.

The ‘TV blackout’ of Saturday 15:00 kick-offs dates back to the 1960s and is designed to protect lower league attendances – by preventing live football matches being televised which could mean fewer fans going to games in person.

Uefa impose the blackout when it is requested by the Football Association.

It was lifted as part of ‘Project Restart’ during the Covid pandemic to allow supporters to watch games when they were played behind closed doors, but then re-imposed again once fans were allowed back into stadiums.

EFL chief commercial officer, Ben Wright, said: “Alongside the EFL’s rich tradition and distinguished history there is a desire to evolve, grow and innovate in order to grow our audience further and we’re looking for a partner or partners who share that vision.”

Original article published 12.10.2022 on the BBC Sport website.

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