The world’s most watched league
No matter where people have lived throughout history, sport has always managed to find a way to thrive - and ‘thrive’ is precisely what football has done.
Football is by far the most followed sport on the planet, and at the helm of this popularity is the English Premier League, the world’s most watched sports league.
Formed in 1992, the Premier League attracts audiences from almost every country in the world, reaching 190 territories and an audience of over three billion every season.
The league’s global appeal is one which attracts the game’s biggest stars and captivates audiences of all ages - uniting people, culture and organisations in the name of entertaining and exciting football.
The global appeal of the Premier League in numbers
The Premier League in South East Asia
The strong fascination with the Premier League, as depicted above, goes far beyond the league's native borders and stretches across the globe.
Within this global enchantment for the league, there are few places in the world which can rival South East Asia.
In fact, it is one of the regions which has the most fans, with BBC reporting that half of the league’s global fanbase is in the Asia-Pacific region (2022), with 56% of football supporters in the South East Asian market being fans of the Premier League (GWI, 2023).
Despite the nearest Premier League stadium being over 9,000 km (5,600 miles) away from the closest South East Asian country, Myanmar, and the region not having a single player playing in the Premier League, fans can’t get enough of the league.
This strong fan culture saw the Premier League’s total cumulative audience for the region reach 386 million during the 2021/22 season, with stand out fixtures like Manchester City vs Liverpool seeing 3.5 million viewers (Nielsen).
Passionate fandom from afar
Premier League fans in South East Asia are the perfect example of perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the league’s rapid rise - its ability to not only attract viewers from afar, but to also create passionate fan bases all over the world.
This fiery fandom is crucial to Premier League clubs and their sponsors as it creates one of the most engaged audiences in sport.
Fans have seen their high level of engagement rewarded with extensive broadcasting coverage in the region, with countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam broadcasting all 380 Premier League games in a season (Nielsen, 2022).
The extensive coverage has seen the total cumulative TV audience continue to rise, with the 2021/22 season seeing a 31% increase compared to the 2020/21 season.
This continued growth from Premier League fans in the region is particularly impressive considering that most games are broadcasted in the middle of the night - a true testament to the fans’ high level of engagement and commitment to the world’s biggest league.
Global fan investment
Recognising the importance of a global fan base, the Premier League has long been investing in its fans in South East Asia.
In 2003, the league formed the Premier League Asia Trophy, a biennial pre-season tournament created to give back to the hundreds of millions of fans in Asia.
The first edition was held in one of South East Asia’s biggest Premier League fan hubs, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Subsequent tournaments have seen other countries in the region host matches, with fans from both Thailand and Singapore treated to entertaining fixtures in 2005 and 2015, respectively.
Outside of the league’s own trophy, individual Premier League clubs have organised their own pre-season tours to the region with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all visiting South East Asia in the last five years.
How brands can utilise the Premier League’s presence in South East Asia
In a world where customers are inundated with marketing messages and the only guaranteed engagement is clicking the skip button, contemporary advertising faces an uphill battle.
The Premier League offers a platform to businesses looking to truly connect with their customers. Through its unrivalled popularity in South East Asia, the Premier League gives access to some of the most engaged and loyal customer groups.