THE EFL has unveiled iFollow, an innovative digital live streaming and content platform that will revolutionise the way football fans overseas can follow their EFL teams.
iFollow will, for the first time in English football, enable EFL fans based outside the UK and Ireland to watch their team during the regular EFL season. With an estimated 270,000 EFL fans based outside the UK, iFollow will allow clubs to enable their supporters to follow the action wherever they are in the world.
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.
Fans based in the UK and Ireland will still also have access to live audio commentary, highlights packages and exclusive content as part of the new offering, rebranded to replace the EFL’s existing PlayerHD platform.
At launch, the vast majority of EFL clubs have opted in to utilise the iFollow platform and those who have not will have access to the same live streaming opportunity and will provide their fans with access through their own club digital services.
Research commissioned by the EFL suggests that there is significant demand for a service like iFollow among 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.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey commented: “The launch of iFollow is a notable development and will revolutionise the access thousands of overseas fans enjoy when following their EFL team.
“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. The two suppliers were appointed by the EFL in July 2016 following a competitive procurement process.