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Big boost in Championship television coverage

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There will be a big increase in the number of Championship matches shown live on television according to a tender document issued by the English Football League.  

The EFL would allow the number of league games broadcast live to almost treble from 112 to 324 matches a season in 2019-20. Up to 228 of the 552 Championship matches would be live, compared with 92 at present.

The rights will be split into three separate packages.   There will be a weekend package, including the play-offs, of a minimum of 114 and a maximum of 228 live games.  A midweek package would be made up of up to 96 matches.   There will be a third package for the Carabao Cup as the EFL Cup is now known.

Both Sky and BT are interested in bidding.  BT may decide that investing heavily in the EFL is a good way to secure a lot of weekend games,   The midweek package may appeal more to Sky, given that BT Sport has Champions League and Europa League matches sewn up.   ITV may also consider bidding for the midweek games.

That competition and the extra matches should lead to a significant increase in the £90m a year income derived from rights at present,.  There would be fewer kick offs at 3 pm on Saturday which might upset some fans and depress attendances.

The EFL intends to maintain a Saturday night highlights programme for a free-to-air broadcaster, currently Channel 5,   League One and League Two matches would be mostly shown live on international weekends.

The Premier League is increasing the number of games available live to at least 190 of the 380 matches, and also considering a Saturday evening window.   With the increase in EFL matches, that would mean live football every weekend, almost continuously during peak hours.

That does raise the risk of market saturation, particularly given that viewing figures for live matches have been declining over the last two years.   One factor at work here is the increase in illegal streaming. More than a third of Premier League fans currently watch matches live on unofficial streams.   One explanation they offer is that some matches are not available live, which these changes should help to address.