Satellite TV company reportedly beats BT to secure EFL broadcast rights, sees bill increase by 36%

Sky has agreed to spend £600 million for the rights to show football matches from the lower tiers of the English game for a further five seasons following the end of its current deal, reportedly beating BT in an auction process.

The U.K. satellite TV provider said it has secured the rights to up to 183 live matches per season starting in 2019/20, a 26% increase on the number it is permitted to show at present.

Meanwhile, the English Football League (EFL), which covers the second, third and fourth leagues, pointed out that the £600 million price tag is a 36% increase on Sky’s current agreement.

"This arrangement has been finalised following an open tender process that was designed to maximise both the financial return and exposure for all 72 member clubs, the EFL and its competitions," the EFL said.

The EFL did not disclose the identities of the participants in the tender process, aside from Sky, of course, but it was widely reported in the U.K. press over the summer that BT was in the running for the contract.

"I would like to thank all those who submitted bids and we now look forward to working with the Sky Sports team as they cement their position as the broadcast home of live EFL matches," EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said, in a statement.

"These negotiations cam at what was an incredibly challenging period in the sale and acquisition of sports rights in the U.K. and, having fully tested the market, we believe that not only has a significant increase in value for our clubs been achieved, but also the very best deal, with the best partner has been delivered," Harvey said.

The cost of the EFL deal, which covers cup games as well as league matches, is relatively low, compared with the multi-billion-pound sums paid for Premier League rights in recent years. But the price increase will give Sky and BT pause for thought when it comes the next battle for top flight football rights which should be decided early next year.

Sky and BT together paid £5.14 billion for Premier League rights for the three seasons from 2016/17 to 2018/19, Sky taking the lion’ share with a £4.2 billion spend.

An increase of similar magnitude to that seen with EFL rights could see the pair’s bill rise to around the £7 billion mark.

Or possibly higher, should speculation that the likes of Amazon are looking to take part prove correct.