How the Premier League is becoming more popular in the US
The Premier League has become a global brand since it began in 1992. The top division of English football is broadcast widely around the world, and it is now capturing a growing audience in the US.
Interest in Major League Soccer and it’s players has also increased in recent years, and it is now estimated to have similar viewership to the National Hockey League (NHL). However, recent broadcast deals between the Premier League and NBC will see all 380 fixtures in the competition broadcast to a US-based audience throughout the season.
The deal was significant and showcased how big the English Premier League is becoming in the US. Sports enthusiasts in the country are following teams more, and there is also a growth of sports betting in the USA on soccer.
A growing interest in soccer in US
Aside from a growing interest in the Premier League, more US residents are watching soccer in general. The increasing competitiveness of the MLS over the past two decades, since its launch in 1993, has led to a more competitive US National Men’s Team (USNMT) on the international stage. The national football team has reached the knockout rounds of the World Cup on five occasions, and it has won six Confederations Cup titles.
Such improvement among the international team has inspired a new generation of soccer fans to follow the MLS and its teams. According to recent research from global analytics firm Gallup, soccer is now the second-most-watched sport in the US among viewers aged between 12 and 24, with American Football and the NFL.
Viewership of the MLS is also growing, which shows a deepening interest in soccer among a younger fanbase. Since 2012, there has been a 27% increase in viewership of the MLS, and in-person spectatorship is also on the rise. Between 2012 and 2017, there was an average rise of 6,000 attendees per match in the league.
Why is the Premier League popular?
Although soccer, in general, is getting more of a US-based audience, the Premier League, in particular, is attracting a lot of fans from the country.
There has also been an interest in European football from the US. Some top USMNT stars depart the MLS to play in Europe, including Christian Pulisic, Sergio Dest, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Zack Steffen. Viewing figures of European elite competitions, such as the Champions League, also remain high as viewers take a vested interest in teams that contain US players.
However, viewership of the Premier League has been particularly popular in the US. Major television companies based in the US, including Fox and ESPN, have previously held rights to broadcast fixtures from England’s top flight. There have also been steadily increasing numbers watching English football matches, with a 118% increase between 2011/12 and 2014/15.
NBC then secured the rights to broadcast the Premier League in 2015, and interest has continued to rise. There has been an estimated 20% viewership increase since then in US viewers. In comparison to the MLS, the Premier League remains slightly more popular for US soccer fans. Due to the long-standing history and rivalry associated with the league, there is more at stake. Such entertainment value has not yet been established in the MLS. For example, century-long rivalries between Arsenal and Tottenham or Liverpool and Man United are appealing, not just to US spectators but to viewers from around the world. At present, it is hard for US teams to compete as the MLS has only been going for nearly three decades, and it is still a developing and growing league.
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