New viewing deal agreed for Leeds United’s overseas fans

Getting a new view: Leeds United FC, Elland Road.
Getting a new view: Leeds United FC, Elland Road.
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Leeds United’s overseas supporters will be able to watch live broadcasts of the club’s games next season via a new online streaming service.

United are setting up a pay-per-view channel allowing fans abroad to receive coverage of most of their 2017-18 fixtures following the introduction of a new initiative by the EFL.

The governing body recently created the iFollow digital platform to provide foreign broadcasts of matches involving all 72 clubs in the Football League.

Leeds were planning to opt out of the EFL’s scheme and provide their own service but iFollow is set provide United’s broadcasts under different branding from September onwards.

At the time of its launch, the EFL estimated that the cost of iFollow’s streams to individual fans following one club would equate to £110 a year.

Under the organisation’s rules the broadcasts will not be available to fans in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. The pay-per-view deal also excludes matches selected for live coverage by broadcasters in the UK, including Sky Sports.

The scheme marks a shift in the handling of EFL television rights, a contentious subject which brought Leeds and the governing body to blows under previous United owner Massimo Cellino.

Cellino fought to challenge the EFL’s domestic broadcast deal with Sky, claiming the agreement represented poor value for United.

Derby County were another club who voiced concerns about the existing arrangement.

The two clubs considered staging a friendly at Pride Park in March in an attempt to demonstrate the revenue potential of online streaming. The plan was later dropped amid doubts at Leeds about its likely success.

Sky’s contract runs for another two seasons but the EFL announced earlier this month that the broadcaster had declined an option to extend it to the end of the 2019-20 season.

The rights have now been put out to tender by the EFL after what it said was a “thorough and rigorous evaluation” of the existing arrangement.

Leeds have also announced that all non-matchday content on their in-house TV station, LUTV, will be free from next week.

Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen

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