Interest had been reported from DAZN, Viaplay, and Warner Bros. Discovery

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The EFL has announced that it will enter an exclusive month-long negotiating period with its preferred bidder for its post-2023/24 broadcast rights, Sky Sports. 

The organisation issued its invitation to tender in February, and there has since been reported interest from the likes of DAZN, Viaplay, and Warner Bros. Discovery. DAZN’s bid recently hit the headlines due to the streaming platform’s aim to show all league matches live - potentially ending the 3pm blackout.

The EFL had already revealed its willingness to look at ending the 3pm blackout with its request for proposals last year, which listed all matches as available to bidders. EFL chief commercial officer Ben Wright spoke to Broadcast Sport shortly after that announcement, revealing that the governing body was open to a wide variety of agreements, including global rights deals such as that between MLS and Apple TV+, ending the 3pm blackout, and having more than one broadcaster holding rights for different competitions.

However, despite this it appears that current rights holder Sky Sports is now in pole position to continue its long-running relationship with the EFL. It is unknown whether it would change its current broadcasting style for the games, or have a significant increase in live matches.

Wright previously explained: “I think there’s a number of factors. The one thing we’ve got is a lot of volume. So 1,656 league matches alone, and on an average weekend at the moment in the UK, which is our biggest market, we’re making 5%, that product available live in 2022. Is that a contemporary approach?

“That’s a key thing, are we are we matching consumer demand? We did a lot of research, and there’s a demand for more content from fans.”

He added on the 3pm blackout: “We’ve looked at making all [matches] available, and we’ve also looked at different scenarios. We’ve also had conversations about making portions or elements of that available and still leaving an element of that protected.

“That might mean that we move a percentage of each division, or it might be that we move X number of clubs’ home matches per season, or that the clubs have the ability, should they wish to, to move out of the window and stream or broadcast themselves. But at the moment, what we’re trying to do is get options around that, more than a fixed position.”