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Inside the Deal: EFL Fans to View Enhanced Broadcasts For the Next Five Seasons as IMG Becomes Official Production Partner

22/04/2024

Inside the deal: EFL fans to view enhanced broadcasts for the next five seasons as IMG becomes official production partner By Heather McLean

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 - 11:59

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IMG is the new production partner for the EFL through to the end of the 2028/29 season

IMG has been announced as the English Football League's (EFL) production partner through to the end of the 2028/29 season, which will mean a major upgrade to the EFL's broadcast output for the next five seasons. The deal begins with the 2024/25 season.

Domestically, 1,059 EFL matches in the Sky Bet EFL, Carabao Cup and Bristol Street Motors Trophy matches are set to be broadcast exclusively across existing Sky Sports channels or live via a Sky Sports streaming destination. From its dedicated EFL production centre at Stockley Park, IMG will produce 866 matches per season for Sky Sports' streaming service with the remaining balance produced by Sky for their main channel output.

We like it big at Stockley Park! We like it when Stockley Park is tested, because you want to stretch the capability and the imagination. So, this is a lot of football

IMG will produce a further 832 matches (1,698 in total), which will be utilised outside of the UK by EFL rights holders Pitch International and Relevent Sports, that will distribute the premium broadcast feed across the world. Clubs will also be able to offer the elevated output via their own international streaming services to fans of EFL Clubs outside of the UK.

With record domestic and international broadcast deals in place from the 2024/25 season until 2028/29, the EFL is committing to an increased audio-visual production which will see more cameras at every broadcast Sky Bet EFL fixture, enhanced commentary facilities, new in-game graphics and improved features to deliver a premium experience for viewers at home and abroad.

IMG head of studios, Barney Francis

Growing business

Speaking to SVG Europe, executive vice president of studios, Barney Francis, comments on the process for IMG to win the contract with the EFL: We were the incumbent and it was an open, competitive process. When you go into these things as the incumbent, you are actually up against it, because everybody else that pitches knows what you've done over the previous term, and therefore come up with alternative solutions. So, of course we're delighted to extend it.

We like working with the EFL, we've built out a great team here and a great tech stack. And obviously, given my previous role as well, [we are] fully aware of the importance of the EFL and what they're trying to achieve so we were able to come up with a solution that they think best serves their licences. It's an important one for us.

He continues: We like working on all sorts of different properties, and to retain this business is really good; it sits alongside our other big pillars of PLP and DP World Tour, MLS, Euro League, and EFL is another biggie. We like it big at Stockley Park! We like it when Stockley Park is tested, because you want to stretch the capability and the imagination. So, this is a lot of football.

Read more: Sky Sports and EFL ink 935m five-year domestic rights deal and pledge to up production values

EFL chief commercial officer, Ben Wright, says: The start of the 2024/25 season, represents an exciting new era for the EFL with recordbreaking rights deals at home and abroad that will see a huge number of games broadcast and a new way of watching for fans of EFL Clubs.

It was imperative that our production partner had the experience, expertise and capability to elevate our broadcast output across our competitions and after a thorough RFP process, it was clear that IMG could offer the world class service level required with the track record to match.

Having started this relationship in 2019, IMG understands the EFL and the needs of its Clubs. The enhancement of that relationship with increased output will provide significant benefit to Sky Sports, Clubs, partners and other affiliates. The partnership aims to put fans first, innovate and ultimately deliver an enhanced viewing experience for EFL fans everywhere.

Francis adds: We are delighted that [the English] Football League sits alongside us in thinking that we're best place to deliver it. Even though we're a B2B, what I always say to my team is I want us to operate like a B2B2C; let's understand the partner we're working with and who are their consumers, because that all plays into the financial ecosystem. If their consumers are unhappy with the Football League and how it's doing it, then the Football League can be unhappy with us. So, we like to try and think as a B2B2C, and that way we provide best value to those that we work with.

EFL coverage going forwards will see a huge increase in cameras used for all matches, improving the viewer experience

More cameras

The major change fans will see is increased camera set ups across every division with six cameras in the Championship, four cameras in League One and two cameras in League Two, up from four, one and one cameras respectively.

Carabao Cup matches will feature a minimum of two cameras plus an upscaled four camera set up for later rounds of the competition. All Bristol Street Motors Trophy matches will remain available to view with a one camera set up until the semi-finals.

Francis comments: We've moved to this 6:4:2 camera set up, which adds a layer of complexity, both in the tech provision we've got here, the people provision; going from four to six cameras for the games that aren't outside broadcast matches for Sky means that we need better people, better workflows and what have you. So, we've come up with a solution that clearly the EFL is happy with.

From a personnel point of view, it's a brilliant opportuni
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/inside-the-deal-efl-fans-to-v...
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