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The Growing Popularity of Premiership Outside UK

Earlier this week, The Independent newspaper in England announced that the Premiership has grown so much in popularity that it now has 160 million viewers in 202 countries. Just for the Arsenal against Man United match, the UK TV audience was up to 6 million people.While the game is growing in popularity in the States, it’s a different story back home in the UK where TV ratings are stagnant.This goes back to my original argument made several months ago that many Americans have a bigger appetite for watching Premiership football than those fans in the UK. The league is still a novel thing to watch in the U.S., where many fans religiously get up each weekend at 4:30am PT to watch the early kick-off. Plus with ten or more live Premiership matches on TV each week in the States, Americans are watching many of these games live.It’s a different story in the UK where fewer matches are shown on TV. Plus ticket prices for matches are exorbitant. But it does make you wonder how a team like a Wigan or Middlesbrough, who feature large numbers of empty seats week after week, would fare in the U.S. and whether the seats would be packed each week if those teams were transplated in America.

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  1. Anonymous

    January 26, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I would say simply that the rising poularity of the EPL in the US is that it’s a superior product. After discovering it, I cannot watch any American pro sports on the tube any more, all of which don’t even PRETEND to be anything more that a cynical vehicle to attract eyballs to endless advertisments and network programming promotions. Plus, the speed and fluidity of the game is unmatched, and the lack of a playoff system makes all games meaningful. There is still a reverence for the game and the clubs. For Englisgh fans that bemoan the increasing money and commercialization of their game, I would say–you have NO idea how good you’ve got it. Don’t change a damn thing.

  2. Anonymous

    January 25, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Every season (probably since football started in England) there has only been a handful of teams with a chance of winning the league, so now there is some interest overseas they should change something that has worked for over 100 years? to gain more interest Stateside.

    I would never want to see an NFL system adopted in the EPL, the day I hear Steven Gerrard refer to LFC as a franchise is the day I stop following footie. Using Wigan and Blackburn isn’t a really good reference point as they are geographically close to some larger EPL teams and a lot of people that live there actually follow those teams and in Wigan’s case there is another sports team in that town that is more popular than the football team is.

  3. eplnfl

    January 24, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I made a lot of suggestions on this issue in the forum, but a couple of things merit attention.

    1. Really only 2 to 4 clubs can expect to win the the EPL. That creates a lot of disinterest in the fans of say the Blackburn Rovers. Why should they spend a good deal of their salary on a club who if everything goes right may finish 6th. Think about the feeling for a Wigan fan?

    The solution is a NFL profit sharing structure that puts all teams on an equal financial footing and therefore give everyone a chance to win. MLB has the same problem in the U.S. and is one reason why the NFL has become the sport.

    However the American fan may not be a fan of one club and can enjoy a mid-table match on tv for next to nothing.

    2. Sports fan in America are bored with many of the major American sports. My comments on MLB are stated above. The NHL is a lost cause to most Americans and the NBA has dropped off from the Michael Jordan years due in large part, as is also true in baseball, from the players seeming being a world apart from the general public. In the NBA and MLB you have a public thinking that players make a ton of money for little or no talent and become disconnected from the average fan who can not shell out over a $100.00 to take his family just to one game. Not to mention buy food at the game.

    Meanwhile they read about a player with so-so talent demanding and getting millions and then of course 6 monthes later they are unhappy with their contract or have done something foolish in the public eye.

    So the desire to find satisfaction elsewhere.

  4. Ossie's Dream

    January 24, 2007 at 10:47 am

    I’ve lived in NYC for four years now and still get a little surprised at the number of American fans of English footie. There are many anglophiles in the US so it shouldn’t be that surprising, I suppose. They clearly love the boozing first thing on a Saturday morning, as well as terrace humor (judging by the large number of poor attempts at it I have to listen to whenever I watch a game at the pub!).

    TV-wise, we really are spoiled here in the US. I’m a Spurs fan and it seems like we’re on the box every week. I actually prefer watching games five hours earlier, having gotten used to it (apart from those punishing 7:30am EST kick-offs).

    I’m not sure why exactly the UK TV figures are stagnant, but I’ll hazard a guess: English fans may just be getting sick of football’s endless self-promotion and rampant commercialization: Sky TV’s over the top promotion and rip-off prices, rising ticket prices, endless footballer biographies and promotions, footballer wages spiraling out of control, bloated European competitions, etc., etc. Football has traditionally been the sport of the working classes, something the governing authorities seem to have lost sight of.

    So, US fans won’t feel jaded by all this, being separated by over 3,000 miles and other cultural gaps. Additionally, over here, they often refer to sports teams as “franchises” so perhaps the American football fan won’t mind the commercialization so much.

  5. riocharlie

    January 24, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Only 6 million for the Man u- Arsneal match? That doesnt seem right, did u mean 60? Even that seems small for a world wide audience.

    Its great being a fan here in the US, with FSC, Gol TV and Setanta, we get piped into our homes fantastic games from the EPL, CL, CC, FA, Serie A, La liga, France and Holland on occassions as well. Yet Ill have to go round the pub and pop down a 10er to watch Arsenal-Bolton in an FA cup tie this weekend.

    I read Blackburn are rolling back ticket prices as a result of the new TV money. But Arsenal seems to have no problem sellin out 60,000 seat Emirates at 94gbp a pop. I know Wenge was afraid it would be difficult to sell out such a large stadium.

    All in all though its a good bargain when you consider that the Dolphins(NFL) just sent out renewal notices to their most loyal season ticket holders, some as lon as 35 yr plus holders, that raised their prices from $185 to $400 per game, and $500 if they renew after Feb 23rd. Ouch!

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