Is the English Premier League popular than any other leagues in the world? If so, how did the league achieve its popularity? Have you given it a thought? There are many widely known leagues like La Liga in Spain and Bundesliga in Germany. Despite these well-known leagues, EPL standout as the most popular football league in the world.
We have listed down 20 factors that contribute to the popularity of the English Premier League. Read on to learn more.
1.Fans and Followers
We all know that the English Premier League has huge fans and followers all over the world and everyone supports their favorite team.
When it comes to fan following, EPL is well ahead of other football leagues like La Liga. On average an EPL game is watched by over 12 million people from around the world. This number is well ahead of other European leagues which have average views between 2-4 million.
It should be noted that EPL followers are spread out throughout the globe. Let’s take TV audience to measure EPL followers. Data from statista.com shows that only 16.1% of the EPL audience came from the United Kingdom.
Geographically Asia & Oceania is where the bulk of the EPL audience resides. Here is the TV audience distribution for 2011/12 season:
- Asia & Oceania – 32.5%
- Middle East & Africa – 22.6%
- Europe – 19.5%
- UK – 16.1%
- South & Central America – 5.7%
- North Caribbean – 3.6%
The above image shows the distribution of EPL clubs twitter followers.
2.Financial Strength of EPL
To be financially strong is one of the key factors to be ensured by a league. The English Premier League has always maintained a decent financial status and has also been ranked as one of the highest paying league in the world.
Football League First Division, the predecessor of EPL, was way behind other football leagues like Serie A and La Liga when it comes to revenue. But the situation improved greatly and by 2013/14 season, with the improved television revenues and cost controls the EPL had net profits in excess of £78 million, exceeding all other football leagues.
In the 2017/18 season, the Premier League had the highest revenue of any football league in the world, with total revenue of €5.3 billion (around $6.2 billion).
Some of the richest football clubs in the world are present in the Premier League. For the 2017–18 season, the central payments were estimated to £2.4 billion across the 20 clubs.
Each team received a flat participation fee of £34.8 million and additional payments for TV rights (40.7 million), commercial rights (£4.83 million) and the merit pay will be based on the final league position of the team.
3.Influence of Language
Language is the connecting factor of the game with the audiences. The most widely spoken language in the world is English with over 1.12 billion total speakers.
English is the most commonly spoken language in countries like the USA, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Apart from that English is also spoken in several countries due to the colonial past of the British Empire.
Having said that, EPL is the best English league in the world and it is only fair to say the English language is an important factor for the success of the EPL.
Even though other football leagues are available in English commentary, they are no match to live action commentary of EPL.
The commentary of the English premier league is of the highest standard like that of Jim Beglin who is an Irish former professional footballer and the current co-commentator for RTÉ, BT Sport, and NBC Sports. A team of commentators- Peter Drury, Jon Champion, Martin Tyler, and many others are considered as the voice of the English top tier.
Alan Smith is currently a sporting pundit and commentator and the club patron of Alvechurch F.C who is also a well-known commentator of the English Premier League. Majority of the people know English and hence it is one of the key factors for the popularity of EPL. Even the pre-match presentations are of high standard lead by John Dykes.
John Dykes was a lead anchor for the Premier League’s content service who was available to the international broadcast partners. He worked as the host of the ESPN STAR Sports’ coverage of the Premier League and European football for almost a decade.
4.The Live Stream Coverage
English Premier League matches are broadcast live and excitedly awaited. With more number of live coverage channels, the popularity of the league has increased with the ease of watching the events from anywhere.
The first BBC football broadcast was in 1965 which was a black and white coverage and only a few viewers gathered and tuned in for the highlights of Match of the Day. Gradually, the spectators increased to a few million even if the goals were a bit of a blur and in those days there was no action replay.
In 2015/16 season, EPL reached over 4.2 billion peoples from 156 countries and over 200 territories. The overseas broadcast rights drop in enormous income and as the most interesting part about the league is that they are distributed collectively amongst the 20 clubs.
The existing broadcasters namely, Sky and BT, have already signed to broadcast 200 games out of 380 matches a year, which goes up to 168 live matches in the current cycle.
Apart from the usual deals, the new 2019-2022 deal includes 8 individual games shown live in a ‘prime-time’ on a Saturday night slot, 3 complete rounds of 10-midweek matches (all live) and 1 set of Bank Holiday games.
The Premier League has been sanctioned an increase on the current £5.14 billion domestic television deal which runs until 2019.
The Premier League features a number of local derbies that is a treat to watch. England being the most densely populated country hosts top-level league, which in return provides a wealth of local derbies.
Manchester Derby is one of the oldest football rivalries with the first game between Man City and Man United contested in 1881. The battle between Aston Villa F.C. and West Bromwich Albion F.C. is called as West Midlands derby.
The North London derby is the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham. This local derby is in England based in North London. Both the teams, Arsenal and Tottenham have huge fans that have recognized each other as one of their biggest rivals. The North London derby is one of the fiercest derbies in world football.
Everton and Liverpool’s battle is called as the Merseyside derby. The Merseyside derby features two major clubs from Liverpool, Merseyside, England. This is one of the longest-running top-flight derbies in England which has been playing continuously since the 1962–63 season.
Tyne-Wear derby is the name given to the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle United. This fixture always has the unpredictability of the derby which means that they often show unexpected results that can be a turning point to the whole league.
Apart from the local derbies are the ‘Big team’ rivalries.
As we know, the big Premier League rivalries include derby between Chelsea and Liverpool, Chelsea and Leeds, and Manchester United and Liverpool. Manchester City and Manchester United have also been on rival (Manchester derby), but now that the City has been emerging as one of the most competitive teams among the other teams they no more show the United rivalry.
Man City – Man Utd Rivalry
As previously discussed, the matches between Manchester City and Manchester United is one of the most watched football rivalries.
The home ground of Man City is City of Manchester which is located just 6.4 km (4 miles) from Man Utd’s home ground Old Trafford. This close proximity of the stadiums adds more fire to the rivalry.
Chelsea – Liverpool Rivalry
The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool has always been fascinating and one of the most anticipated event. Both the teams are equally capable of defending goals and wait for the right instance to net goal. This is one of the awaited rivalries in the English Premier League.
Northwest Derby (Manchester United vs Liverpool)
The rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool is known as the Northwest Derby. It is a high-profile inter-city rivalry between English professional association football clubs Liverpool and Man United. It is recognized as one of the biggest rivalries in the association football world and is considered the most interesting and famous fixture in English football.
The competition for the title and the rivalries are immense in EPL when compared to other leagues. The top EPL clubs which is commonly known as the ‘Big Six’, present high-level competitions that attract millions of audiences. There are many more reasons that contribute to the popularity of the league.
Since the inception of the English Premier League in 1992, the widely known ‘Big Six’ have continued to win the league’s title. Among the top six clubs, four clubs namely Manchester United (13), Chelsea (5), Arsenal (3), and Manchester City (3) have been crowned more than once.
Are there Big Six teams in every league? Are they all as competing as they are in EPL? Among all the major leagues throughout the world, it is EPL that features fierce clashes among Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur.
In general, the battle for the top four spots for Champions League qualification is even more interesting. Apart from the top clubs, Everton has been emerging competitive and are proving to be tough against Tottenham. It is not just about the top five teams, but it is equally interesting at the bottom as well.
The teams in the relegation zone have clashes extended till the last day of the season. The competitiveness and randomness of this league draw extra attention of the spectators.
8.Time of Telecast
The time of telecast plays a major role in the Premier League’s popularity. Unlike the Champions League, the time of telecasting the Premier League matches are suitable for many densely populated countries like India and China. The matches are generally fixed during the weekends in a time slot of 5.00 PM to 12.00 midnight which is the right time for the people to watch with ease at home.
This time slot is the best thing about the English Premier League as the football fans and followers do not have to sacrifice their sleep to watch their favorite teams play. This ensures the viewership for the future as people of every generation can watch the event, which is a direct assurance for the popularity of the league.
For example, in India, the EPL matches are aired live on Saturdays in the late afternoon, evening and late evening and on Sundays, it is broadcasted in evenings and late evenings (and at times in midweeks) and this perfectly suits the Indian timings.
9.The Key Players
Players are the most important factor that attracts spectators to watch the league. Though Messi and Ronaldo are the two most popular football players since their stepping-in to the sport, in the recent days, players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Riyad Mahrez are the new faces that are being looked at.
One of the legendary players in EPL was Thierry Henry who was an amazing forward Arsenal player. Henry was unstoppable in his days who always contributed goals in the big events and has an integral part in the Arsenal squad.
Arsenal was known for its terrific play because of him as he won 2 English Premier League titles with the team. He was also awarded the Premier League Golden Boot for 4 seasons. Even now Henry is remembered as an EPL legend not just for the works he did on the field, but for the way he did it, making the game look like an art.
Another legendary player Ryan Giggs was one of Manchester United’s greatest players. He was known for his swift moves and later evolved as a central midfielder in his amazing career.
His achievements with Manchester United without including his personal achievements are as follows: 13 Premier League titles, 3 League Cups, 2 Champions League, 4 FA cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 Club World Cup, and 1 UEFA Super Cup.
Current top players
Harry Edward Kane is a key player who plays as a striker for Tottenham Hotspur and he is also the captain of the England national team. He is known for his goal scoring technique and is considered as one of the best players in the world.
Kane has so far maintained a record of the most Premier League Player of the Month awards (6; shared with Steven Gerrard) and has been chosen for the PFA Team of the Year 4 times. In September 2018, he was Tottenham’s fifth all-time scorer in official competitions.
During the 2016–17 season, he ended the season as the league’s top goalscorer and helped the club finish as the competition’s runners-up. In the same season, he won the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award.
Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian professional forward player who currently plays for Liverpool. Later he evolved as an attacking midfielder/winger of the team. Salah previously played for the Chelsea team and later relocated to Liverpool for a then club-record fee of £36.9 million.
With respect to his incredible play, he received a number of other awards at the end of the season which includes the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Player of the Year and the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year awards. In the 2017-18 season, he was the top goal scorer of the team with 44 goals.
The salaries paid by EPL clubs are very high. Top players from various countries step into the English Premier League as they are offered high-value contracts. Alexis Sanchez is the best example as he left Barcelona and joined Arsenal for a transfer fee of £31.7 million. The Chilean star has scored 30 goals, with 14 assists in the 2016-2017 season.
In the Premier League, as a result of the raising television deals, there was a rise in player wages also. The average player wage was £75,000 per year which has now (2018–19 season) come to an average annual salary of £2.99 million.
The total salary bill in the 2018–19 season for the 20 EPL clubs was £1.62 billion. Out of the 20 clubs, the club with the highest average wages is Manchester United at £6.5 million.
The ratio of the wages of the highest paid team to lowest paid in the Premier League is 6.82 to 1. With respect to the lower differential between team wage bills in the Premier League, it is often considered as being more competitive than other top European leagues.
Who has been signed in? Which player has shipped out? These are the common questions that come in mind when we talk about the transfer deals. The English Premier League teams try to draft in top players in order to win the season with ease. The transfer deals are set high when compared to other leagues.
It is the willingness and ability of the EPL clubs to pay high transfer fees. Many top players in other football leagues are attracted to the league and move in if a good deal is offered.
Every season, high transfer fees are being dealt with by clubs. As of January 2018, English top-flight clubs have spent a record £419.5 million and is expected to reach the same sheet once again this year.
The Premier League’s transfer fee has been gradually increasing. Before the start of the first Premier League season, Alan Shearer became the first British player to make a transfer fee of more than £3 million.
So far, the highest transfer fee paid by an English Premier League club is £89 million for Paul Pogba.
The average attendance of the League marks the attractiveness of it. The cheers of live audiences not only impact players on the field but also those watching the game on TV. As of 2017–18 season, the English Premier League football has been played in 58 stadiums since the formation of the division.
Since the inception of the Premier League, there have been gradual improvements in the capacity and facilities in England stadiums, with some clubs moving to new-build stadiums. The 2017-2018 season stadiums saw lots of audiences and the organizers faced problems with the accommodation.
For example, Wembley Stadium, the temporary home of Tottenham Hotspur, has an average seater of 90,000 while Dean Court, the home of Bournemouth, has a capacity of 11,360. The overall combined capacity of the Premier League in the 2017–18 season is 806,033 with an average capacity of 40,302.
The previous season, 2016–17 season came across an average attendance of the clubs were 35,838 for the Premier League matches with an aggregate attendance of 13,618,596. This marks an increase of 14,712 from the average attendance of 21,126 recorded in the Premier League’s first season which was held during 1992–93.
With the League’s establishment in 1992, recorded average attendance of 36,144 was set during the 2007–08 season. This record was later overcome in the 2013–14 season which showed an average attendance of 36,695 with an attendance of just under 14 million, the highest average in England’s top flight since 1950.
The stadium attendance also acts as a significant source of regular income for the Premier League clubs.
13.History of the League
History, the origin of a league is the baseline of the league’s popularity. Premier League, also known as Premiership was established in 1992. The league with 20 clubs replaced the first division of the English Football League (EFL) as the top level league of football in England. Premier League is comparatively young and was formed as a result of the decline of the sport in the UK during the 1980s.
The Football League First Division, which had been the major English football league since 1888, was behind the Italian and Spanish rivals. As years went by, around the early 1990s, there occurred a change as England reached the semi-finals in the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
The FA Premier League was formed in February of 1992, and the first game was played in August of the same year. Initially, there were 22 clubs in the league. In 2007, it was officially declared that the FA Premier League will thereby be called as ‘The Premier League’ in 2007. The league is also called Barclays Premier League as its official sponsor is Barclays Bank.
Many of the 20 football clubs in the Premier League 2018-19 season are more than 100 years old that have a huge legacy behind.
In accordance with the growth and statistics of the league, as long as they continue to improve, The EPL should continue to be the topmost League for years to come.
14.Role of Media
As a role of the media, the TV rights agreement between the Premier League and the channels have been a contributing factor for the League’s popularity. With the competitiveness among the channels for telecasting the fixtures of the league shows how famous the league is.
Initially, the deal between Premier League and Sky faced allegations and a number of court cases arose as a result. On investigation, the Office of Fair Trading in 2002 found BSkyB to be the leading channel within the pay-TV sports market but did not sufficient evidence for the claim that BSkyB had misused its dominant position.
The channel BBC’s highlights package on Saturday and Sunday nights was signed until 2016 which also includes other evening highlights when fixtures are confirmed. Television rights for the period of 2010 to 2013 have been purchased for £1.782 billion.
ESPN was offered two packages of UK rights which include 46 matches that were available for the 2009–10 season as well as a package of 23 matches per season from 2010 to 2011 to 2012–13.
The Premier League made an official announcement regarding the TV rights deal on 13 June 2012 that BT has been awarded 38 games a season for the 2013–14 through 2015–16 seasons at £246 million-a-year. Other than the 38 games, the remaining 116 games were taken by Sky who paid £760 million per year.
An average of 70.2% increase over the 2010–11 to 2012–13 period, which resulted in a total domestic rights increase of £3.018 billion. In 2015, the value of the licensing deal of the channels rose by another 70.2%. The channels Sky and BT paid £5.136 billion to renew their contracts with the Premier League for another three upcoming years up to the 2018–19 season.
15.The Unexpected Twists and Turns
The unpredictability and competitiveness of the English Premier League add-on to the popularity. With Big Six teams fighting for the title, Leicester city winning the EPL title during the 2015-2016 season was something none of the football pundits expected.
Yes, it is the same team that was relegated two years back to lower division and then came back as the winners defeating big clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, and the Arsenal.
16. Football Is Not Popular in the USA
If we take popular sports in the USA, the leagues played in that country tend to dominate leagues from other countries. In Ice Hockey, NHL is the most popular league and in Basketball it is NBA, in American Football it is NFL and in Baseball the most popular league is MLB.
But football never picked up in America. Even after recent years improvement, the Major League Soccer (MLS) is still nowhere near the EPL and other major football leagues.
The most valuable MLS team is Atlanta United FC which is valued at $330 million. This is nothing when compared to the EPL’s most valuable team Manchester United ($3.69 billion) which is also the most valuable football team in the world.
Sponsors of a league help to promote it via large advertising campaigns. The Barclays has been the title sponsor for the EPL from 2001 until 2016. Barclays used to spend lots of money to advertise the league and they will use a name like Barclays Premier League to promote it.
At the end of the 2015-2016 season, the Barclays’ deal with the EPL also ended. On 4 June 2015, the FA declared that it would not make any further title sponsorship deals for the English Premier League.
There are a number of official partners and suppliers apart from the sponsors for the Premier League. Since the 2000–01 season, the official ball supplier for the league is Nike who took over the deal from Mitre. Since 1994, under its Merlin brand, Topps has held the license to produce collectibles for the Premier League including stickers and trading cards.
18.Betting in EPL
Sports betting is a billion-dollar business. Betting in EPL continues to grow year after year, with millions of pounds bet across the world each weekend of the season. The popularity of sports betting in the UK gives the EPL a leg up.
Betting in EPL is even more interesting as the results are unpredictable. Lucky are those who succeed in guessing the exact outcome of the game. The bets are provided in various websites and the favorites and underdogs are fixed based on their performance over a period.
Premier League being one of the world’s most competitive football leagues, betting on it provides its own unique challenges to both beginners and serious football bettors. In order to enhance the chances of making money betting on the top flight of English football this season, you need to stay updated with the events that take place throughout the season.
The Premier League has an international promotional event like the Premier League Asia Trophy that is held two years once. It is a two-day competition which was inaugurated in 2003 and is ‘the only Premier League-affiliated competition’ to be conducted outside England.
Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur are some of the past participants of the PL Asia Trophy. Since its inception in 2003, it has been conducted in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, and Singapore resulting in a huge number of new followers for the EPL.
20. Fantasy Play
Fantasy Premier League is the trending game which is very addictive. The EPL followers are allowed to choose players and form a team of their own. This fantasy competition with real prizes allows a participant to prepare a team of 15 players of two goalkeepers, five midfielders etc. from all 20 clubs of the league.
With the results, every week the competitor is awarded points based on the performances of its players. At the end of the game, the total points are calculated and the league position of a fantasy manager is decided. The event runs for the entire duration of the season.
Fantasy Premier League is widely popular with more than 5.7 million fantasy managers which include some of the noticeable names. One of the high profile FPL managers is the former England cricket team pacer and captain, Stuart Broad. Since the fantasy play requires keen observing and picking of players, the spectators watch the EPL with more interest.