Media Watch – Streaming to the World

The English Football League has confirmed details of a global streaming product going direct to consumers which is modelled on the same principle as GAAGo.

iFollow will, for the first time in English football, enable overseas fans of teams in the three divisions of English football below the premier League to watch their teams via a subscription feed.

The facility will not extend to the Republic of Ireland because of rights issues around SKY TV’s deal to broadcast games in this country as well as across Britain and Northern Ireland. We will have to settle for the existing PlayerHD package of live audio, extended highlights and exclusive team content, at least for now.

Kicking off at the start of the 2017/18 EFL season, overseas subscribers will pay the equivalent of £110 per season for the service which will provide coverage of up to 46 live games per club.

More than 1,500 matches will be available in HD quality, with iFollow showing every EFL league match live unless that match has been selected by the EFL’s overseas broadcast partners.

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Research commissioned by the EFL suggests that there is significant demand for a service like iFollow amongst fans based overseas. A survey of over 1,600 such fans showed that 73% would be very likely or quite likely to subscribe to a live match streaming service and almost half would be happy to pay an annual subscription fee to do so.

The findings suggest over 55% of the EFL’s fans are located in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where the potential audience for the iFollow platform could reach into the hundreds of thousands.

“The launch of iFollow is a notable development and will revolutionise the access thousands of overseas fans enjoy when following their team,” said English Football League CEO Shaun Harvey.

“The new iFollow platform represents a potentially significant new revenue stream for Clubs, while enabling enhanced engagement with existing fans now living abroad.

“iFollow will also present the EFL with an important opportunity to stimulate the interest of new groups of supporters who follow our clubs overseas, which in turn will help support the growth of our competitions on the international stage.”

The live streaming of matches will be available from the start of the 2017/18 season in conjunction with a brand new digital presence for clubs via official websites and apps, together creating the largest sporting digital network in the world.

US-based company NeuLion, a market leader in online video delivery, whose clients include the NFL, NBA and the Premier League, have developed the integrated streaming service alongside UK company Realise who have built the club websites.

It is another major step in the way the world of sporting rights and distribution of live images is being revolutionised.

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