The Premier League’s popularity with fans around the world has been highlighted by the latest EY report into the economic and social impact of the competition, which says the competition is “a valuable asset to the brand of the UK”.
Part of that, according to the report, is thanks to the array of international talent who play in the Premier League.
“As of the start of the 2021/22 season, players of 119 different nationalities have played within the Premier League, more than in any other major European League,” the report says.
“International players, by promoting interest in the League within their home countries and vice versa, help build enduring connections that support engagement between the Premier League and the international community.”
These global stars, playing competitive and high-quality football, were broadcast to 190 countries and into 878million homes, with a cumulative global audience of 3.2bn in 2019/20.
This popularity translates into significant broadcast revenue for the UK. The EY report finds that in 2019/20 “the League’s broadcast exports were £1.4bn, almost on par with the £1.5bn achieved in exports of other UK television productions (including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and the independent sector)”.
This revenue helps the League and its clubs to invest more in the competition and into their long-term prospects through their Academies while also serving their communities by investing in local projects.
“This makes Premier League football a core component of the media projection of the UK around the world and a major contributor to the positive image and soft power of the UK,” the report adds.
Boosting UK’s soft power
That “soft power” has been confirmed by the British Icon Index, which found that 87 per cent of people worldwide who were interested in the Premier League viewed the UK more positively as a result.
Portland’s 2019 Soft Power 30 Report also acknowledged the impact of the Premier League as “a boon for British soft power”.
The Premier League’s connection with international fans goes beyond television or the 2.1bn annual interactions with the League’s platforms on social media, however.
Fans have had the opportunity to engage directly with the Premier League, its clubs and players through a variety of international events which bring their heroes closer to the competition’s loyal overseas fans.
In 2019/20, as well as the Premier League Asia Trophy in China, where four clubs participated, top-flight clubs visited 16 international markets as part of their pre-season preparations.
During that campaign, the Premier League also held two more PL Mornings Live fan festivals in the United States.
These US events are run in partnership with NBC and allow fans, who often wake up in the small hours to watch the Premier League, to come together to cheer on their teams, meet former players, share their passion for the Premier League and enjoy its experience together.
The most recent fan fest took the show to the West Coast for the first time as thousands of supporters descended on the Los Angeles Coliseum Stadium.
More than 30,000 American fans have attended these festivals so far and the growth in popularity of the Premier League in the US has been demonstrated by a new six-year TV deal with NBC through to 2028.
The desire to see the Premier League and its clubs in person has also had a big impact on tourism to the UK.
The EY report says Premier League football attracts more than half a million international visitors to the UK each year. Combined with over 651,000 domestic tourism trips, this generates over £442million in expenditure in regions across the wide geographical area of the country where our clubs are located.