The rise of the Premier League
After a troublesome few decades in the 1970s and 1980s English football was struggling. Hooliganism, poor stadium infrastructure and fan violence all contributed to the top tier of English football falling behind rival leagues in Italy and Spain, as fan attendances and revenues plummeted in comparison.
In an attempt to help English football compete with its continental rivals and generate more money through broadcasting rights, the English Premier League was formed.
Although highly controversial at the time, the formation of the league, which saw a brand new format of top-level English football, was - in hindsight - one of the most successful moves in sporting history.
In just over 30 years, the Premier League has climbed to the top of the sporting food chain, becoming the world’s most watched league.
Regularly accumulating more than 3 billion viewers from over 190 countries, the Premier League functions as a pulsating hub for fans from all walks of life - uniting people, culture and organisations in the name of entertaining and exciting football.
The Premier League in North America
In many ways, the Premier League shouldn't work in North America.
Two out of the three most populous countries on the continent, the USA and Canada, have well established fan bases centred around other sports (American Football, Ice Hockey, Baseball and Basketball). Even in North America’s footballing hub, Mexico, the fans’ interest is predominately centred around their domestic league, Liga MX as well as the Spanish La Liga.
Despite the dominance of other sports and leagues, interest in the top tier of English football has continued to grow over the last few decades. This interest is thought to derive from an increasing number of North American players participating in the league, as well as the league’s ability to attract the world’s biggest stars - an aspect which is particularly appealing to fans in North America.
Broadcasting boom peaks fan interest
Rising interest has led to regularly televised games, particularly in the US, with media giant NBC operating as the league’s primary US broadcaster. In 2022, NBC reported a 21% increase in viewership as the league recorded a total audience delivery of 507,000 viewers per broadcasted game.
According to SportsPro, since starting its coverage of the Premier League in August 2013, the network has aired 28 of the 30 most-watched live Premier League matches ever in the US across all platforms, with the final fixture round of the 2021/22 season attracting audiences of over 2.2m.
The US market has emerged as the home of the Premier League in North America, with fans building a strong culture around watching the league in the early hours of the morning.
The Premier League have capitalised on this and launched dedicated Instagram and Twitter channels specifically for US fans, with the channels seeing great success with over 1m followers across both channels.
Fans in North America and beyond aren’t alone in taking a special interest in the Premier League.
The league’s successes, both on and off the pitch, over the last 30 years have caught the eye of businesses from a wide array of industries, with the Premier League’s unique position to engage with fans around the world crucial to the increased investment.
The level of investment from businesses has varied, with some choosing to use it as a platform to market their brands, through sponsorship and perimeter advertising and some choosing to invest in owning football clubs.
The latter has been particularly prominent with American businesspeople.
Recognising the value of the Premier League, eight out of the 20 clubs in the Premier League are now wholly or partly owned by Americans (as of 16/02/2023), with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester United all seeing investment from across the pond.
The investment from American owners has at times caused controversy, most notably in relation to a selection of American owners’ involvement in the proposed European Super League.
However, the Premier League’s global nature and continued growth in the US has seen significant benefits for the owners, with many experts believing that Americans' prominent position in the world’s most watched league will only continue to grow.
Connecting with consumers through the Premier League
The battle for consumer attention is intensifying.
Modern consumers are exposed to a higher frequency of marketing messages than any previous generation. Some of the world's biggest brands have utilised the power of sports marketing agencies and sports marketing as a whole and proved that sport operates as the ideal platform to form meaningful connections with consumers.
With world renowned clubs, dazzling superstars and an unrivalled broadcasting landscape, the Premier League functions as sport’s most global platform and the perfect tool for for businesses to elevate their brand to the next level.