The English Football League has named Sky Sports the preferred bidder and is entering exclusive negotiations for a new media rights deal.
As the frontrunner to secure EFL media rights for the 2024 season and beyond, Sky may dash the hopes of streamers DAZN, TNT Sports, and Viaplay, which hoped to pick off the rights.
Had DAZN won the bid, it planned to stream all 1,656 matches live.
Comcast-owned Sky’s current deal with the EFL pays $147 million annually and ends after the 2023-24 season. The EFL is reportedly seeking a new rights deal worth more than $247 million.
Sky has held the EFL’s live match rights since 2002, but that relationship seemed to be cratering in recent months as the league flirted with new potential media partners.
The league reportedly told potential bidders it would make all 1,891 games a season available. Doing so would eliminate the longstanding Saturday 3 p.m. blackout rule designed to protect attendance at lower-league grounds.
“Clearly, Sky is far more established and reaches more fans than any other provider,” media analyst Paolo Pescatore told The Athletic.
The deal still isn’t done, but it is a “blow to DAZN’s aspirations,” noted Pescatore.