Why the Premier League in the US Will Continue to Grow in Popularity

For better or worse, the days of afternoon NBA Finals are over. Long gone are the afternoons where I would rush home after school to catch Major League Baseball playoff games. The vast majority of important matches in the traditional US leagues are scheduled for 8pm “starts” with actual game play beginning up to an hour later. Add in additional commercials, ever increasing timeouts and delays, and you have later starting games testing even the longest attention spans. One league, the NFL, seems to be the exception and despite recent hiccups, its popularity has never been bigger.

Anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest fewer people are watching these late starting games, but the ratings say otherwise. It would seem more young people are attracted to the star power of leagues like the NBA, but at the same time the English game of soccer has never been more popular. What gives?

The answer is simply increased access to all sports via the Internet and expanding television offerings. Fans today simply have it all. Fans can watch anything and everything via the magic of streaming video and DVR. The Premier League fan in the United States, with the right cable and Internet packages, can watch every single game and most domestic cup matches. This is a privilege English fans could only dream of. The concept of even your local team’s matches on free broadcast TV in England is non-existent. Any team’s Internet message board on match day surely has a thread to track legal and illegal Internet streams. European fans of even the biggest clubs are forced to hunt for dodgy streams seemingly in every language but English.

For US readers, who hasn’t stumbled out of bed, poured some coffee, and enjoyed waking up to their favorite English footballers on live TV and then gone on to enjoy the day? Or maybe your most hated footballers ruined your day. Either way it’s just about the best way to start your weekend. Morning and early afternoon starts are a genius idea that was no idea at all. We can thank the rotation of the earth and geography. Americans have stumbled into goldmine of daytime action that happens to be the beautiful game.

So what does this mean for the future? Well the future is now. The future is NBC and their initial promise to air or stream every EPL match live. The marketing power and commitment from NBC, who have relatively few major sports obligations, can only help the league grow in the United States. A major broadcast network showing every match live and inevitably showing replays in prime time or late afternoons will grow soccer’s fan base.

Hopefully, NBC will guide us into the true golden age of the Premier League. They have a great deal of work to do, but for this writer the future is bright.

13 thoughts on “Why the Premier League in the US Will Continue to Grow in Popularity”

  1. My concern is that they will do something like BeIN Sport is doing… Bad announcers, horrendous programming decisions.


    1. I think that’s guaranteed if they’ll try and show every game.

      To be honest being local the lack of an official stream doesn’t worry me, I see every home match and can nip around the local to wath away matches if I’m not studying.

      I’m sure once NBC realise Wigan V Stoke and Soutampton V Norwich et al only attract audiences in the tens of thousands it’ll end up being the top 6 vs whoever they’re playing and highlights of all the rest.

  2. You’re hitting the nail on the head for me: One of the best things about the EPL is that it is over by noon on the east coast. I don’t have to negotiate with the wife or put off all my chores…..I just watch my game(s).

    Another feature that isn’t unique to the EPL, but is nice about all soccer is how the games take 2 hours. I used to be a huge baseball fan until I got sick of those 4-5 hour playoff games. There’s a LOT to be said for being punctual and succinct.

  3. No one knows if local NBC affiliates will show EPL games live or delayed, or at all for that matter. Fox has had this problem even though they only broadcast a few games on Fox.

    1. I don’t think this will be an issue. With FOX, they don’t own all of the affiliates who show FOX free-to-air, so they can’t guarantee that every station will show FOX programming as scheduled. I don’t believe NBC has the same issue.

      The Gaffer

      1. I don’t see this is a problem either. If the NBC Olympic coverage (at least in terms of showing events on multiple channels are concerned) was any indication of how they’ll manage the EPL, soccer fans should be in for a treat.

        1. Agreed. Also, from what I’ve read, NBC doesn’t plan to show that many matches on their broadcast network.

          The NBC Sports Network, which is cable only, will be the main outlet and the other NBC cable channels will be used as in the Olympics.

  4. Aside from there initial press release has anyone heard of any of NBC’s plans for the Premier League? They seem very quiet… Starting to worry me. No mentions of talent or who in the UK they will partner with.


    1. They’ve still got 7 months to get everything sorted. No worries. I’m sure we’ll be hearing something soon.

      The Gaffer

  5. There needs to be more publicity of this on the main NBC network. A weekly EPL review show should be on the NBC network channel on Sunday afternoons- this will ceate more exposure.

  6. As a newer EPL fan and a fan of most traditional American sports, one of the favorite things about watching an EPL match is that I know I have a flat two hour investment and I’m done. NFL and college football games are regularly 3 1/2 and creeping toward 4 hours, which is way too long. I take the usual heckling for following a “boring” sport when I tell people I like the EPL, but I reply that a sport where commercials precede a kickoff that is followed by another set of commercials ala the NFL is a boring sport.

  7. Well I can not wait. NBC did an excellent job with he Olympics and made statements about using that experience bringing the EPL to US viewers. NBCSC has had great productions so far and again they promise a first rate show.

    They have plenty of time to devote to the EPL and I think the US fans have longed for high quality pre and post game shows for quite a while. Additional high quality programming during the week days will e a big bonus.

    Saturday morning have never been the same for me since I became a EPL fan. I am often up at 4:00am central time to listen to the various pre-match shows and the early start on Saturdays are particularly enjoyable since its a time for you and the game only with little else going on.

    One suggestion to NBC is that they may want to hire some American EPL veterans to join in the show and on occasion have them live from the stadiums themselves.

    Excited about it all.

  8. I don’t want to listen to American talking heads when I watch the EPL. Escaping the insipid, know-it-all boasting of the Sunday morning NFL shows is the main reason why I found, and came to love the EPL. NBC, please don’t use that as your model. And don’t put Americans in the booth to call the British games either. The MSL suffers for that.

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