16 Sep The Premier League, Housing Supporters From All Over the World
The Premier League stands alone as the largest football league in the world and has a fan base that spreads across all four continents.
The Premier League is often regarded as the most competitive football competitions and is, without a doubt, the most watched league in the world. Football teams in the Premier League have seemingly reached the limit of their audiences within the UK, but outside of the UK in the further reaches, there is an abundance of opportunity for target audiences to be reached. Digital technology is rapidly being used around the world which allows an opportunity for clubs to accrue larger fan bases, interacting with audiences on a global scale.
An article regarding the topic suggests that the accelerating growth of the emerging middle class allows for a great amount of opportunity. Those consumers have wealth and also have an interest in western culture, including sports and are likely to own technologies such as smartphones and are active on social media platforms.
Premier league clubs already attempt to engage audiences in countries such as India and nations in Africa by scheduling friendly matches and inviting spectators and supporters to watch some of the world’s best footballing stars. But it would seem premier league teams have a much wider scope of attracting supporters using digital platforms and social networks that now seem second nature to most, allowing clubs to push the sales of merchandise and unique offers.
Manchester City, through City Football Group, has built a global club model and have since been looking to further their fan base. Being such an iconic figure in the Premier League over the last few years, Manchester City has built a following around the world, which is presented in the YouTube series ‘#GlobalCityFans’. The series takes viewers around the world and shows how fans from Cities on all four continents watch the football matches and are part of the Manchester City community.
Research claims that more than half of Chinese football fans support British football teams and approximately 350 million of them watch Premier League matches regularly. Due to Britain’s numerous well-known football teams and international football players makes the Premier league one of the calling cards of football. Having native players within a team plays a role in supporting a building supporters elsewhere, for example, ex-Manchester City player Sun-Jihai, a China international attributed to Manchester City supporters in China.
Africa is already known as a footballing continent, with the African Cup of Nations helping present Africa with a world-class tournament. The continent stands as one of the fastest growing fan-bases for English football, with so many current players in the Premier League such as Riyad Mahrez, Yaya Toure and Andre Ayew all representing various nations in Africa. In March 2016, Econet Media struck a deal with the English Premier League that allows football matches available to viewers on a free-to-air basis across sub-Saharan Africa making viewing available to 50 African countries.
The language barrier between English and Chinese enables issues with premier league based clubs unable to connect with Chinese fans. With China being the world leaders in digital innovation and technology, and over 653 million users on social networking sites, there’s an audience waiting to be unlocked in China. Premier League teams have looked to reach those audiences further afield, creating accounts on Chinese social networking platform ‘Sina Weibo’, China’s answer to Twitter. Both Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal hold ‘Sina Weibo’ accounts that allow Premier League fans to follow the English clubs, in their native language. In January 2016, Manchester United signed a deal with Chinese Sports platform Sina Sports to broadcast their 24/7 TV channel ‘MUTV’ across its digital platforms.
Of course, the advancements in technology have opened up a seemingly vast amount of opportunities for clubs to present themselves elsewhere. With social platforms becoming a global phenomenon, more and more users have the ability to interact and connect with their favoured team, regardless if that team is on the other side of the world. Living in the digital age has opened up a world of opportunity for clubs and brands to build a global name for themselves, clubs are now able to access and engage directly with supporters around the world, offering unique offers and deals for those supporters.
Social media marketing plays a pivotal role in building a clubs international presence, and no doubt clubs will build fan bases around the world. Not only can club’s reach English speakers around the world with their current content but as previously mentioned, clubs are taking to other social media platforms to address fans such as Chinese platform ‘Sina Weibo’. With this in mind, no doubt the majority of clubs will look to build an online presence in many major countries tailoring posts in various languages to share news, information and offers. As the technologies grow, and the reach for clubs increases the Premier Leagues audience will grow and allows the fan-base to excel and build on its already monumental scale.