Home » Why Sky Sports+ will show EFL games at 3pm on Saturday despite blackout staying

Why Sky Sports+ will show EFL games at 3pm on Saturday despite blackout staying

Fans of English Football League clubs will be able to watch more games than ever on Sky Sports in what the broadcaster is calling the “biggest deal in football”.

Through the newly-announced Sky Sports+, which launches in August, the UK’s biggest football broadcaster will show more than 1,000 EFL games over the 2024-25 season, including every single one on the opening weekend as part of its £935m rights deal, which runs until 2029.

But which games will be available, how much will it cost fans and what does it mean for the 3pm blackout? i explains all below:

What is the 3pm blackout?

The 3pm blackout is a rule that bans the broadcasting of football from any Uefa territory, including the United Kingdom, during specific hours.

In the UK, the FA – with the support of the Premier League and Football League – apply for the rule to stop matches being broadcast between 2.45pm and 5.15pm. It was originally instigated to protect in-ground attendances and grass-roots participation in football.

But the UK is one of only three Uefa territories that still uses it.

Is this the end of the 3pm blackout in the UK?

Technically no. Removing the blackout was understood to be on the table this time last year, when the EFL was seeking a new broadcasting contract, telling potential bidders that nothing was off the table, including removing the blackout.

However, the blackout only applies when 50 per cent of matches in the top two divisions are played at the same time.

What does that mean for the opening weekend of the season?

Sky has said it will stream every single EFL game on the opening weekend of the 2024-25 season, encompassing 36 fixtures in total. In order to allow that, there must be no more than 17 fixtures played at 3pm on Saturday 10 August, with the rest expected to be spread out across Friday night, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and Monday evening.

A similar schedule will also appear on the final weekend of the season, as well as Bank Holiday weekends and midweek slots, when every game will be shown live.

On regular weekends, there will be 10 live games shown including seven in the Saturday 12.30pm slot, three of which will be Championship games.

Can I still watch my team on iFollow?

Sky Sports+ has replaced that iFollow subscription system that the EFL used to stream matches that were not picked up by broadcasters and fell outside the 3pm blackout.

The main difference is that supporters will not be able to subscribe to watch only their teams matches or on a match-by-match basis. They will have to sign up to the whole package.

Assurances have also been given that fans will be given plenty of notice when kick-off times are moved, an occurrence that is likely to be far more common under the new deal.

 Every Championship club will be featured a minimum of 24 times in the season, while teams in Leagues One and Two will play on TV – linear or streamed – at least 20 times.

How much will it cost me?

Customers who already have Sky Sports as part of their TV or NOW package will have access to all games at no extra cost.

What else can I watch?

Because Sky Sports+ is part of the wider Sky Sports package, it means that by subscribing you do not only get access to the enlarged Football League offering. You also get Premier League and Bundesliga football, home England cricket Tests, ODI and T20 matches, every Formula One race, all the major golf tournaments, coverage of both men’s and women’s tennis tours and Super League rugby league – to name just a few.