Football is often called the beautiful game. It is the most popular sport in the world, with the 2010 World Cup that was held in South Africa being shown in every single country and territory on the planet; yes, including the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. Television coverage of the entire competition reached an estimated 3.2 billion people, which is almost half of the entire population in the world.
Despite the global appeal of football, there is no denying that the most competitive leagues are in Europe. Players from all over the world usually strut their talents in the continent. These include several of the top players from South America, like Lionel Messi of Argentina, Neymar of Brazil, and Luis Suarez of Uruguay. Some will start in the less competitive leagues like in Portugal or the Netherlands, but players who have started to really make waves are bound to play in the prominent leagues of England, Spain, Italy or Germany.
It is no wonder that these leagues are considered to be the most prestigious and most-watched in the world. The German league called the Bundesliga boasts of the current Champions’ League winners Bayern Munich. The Italian Seria A still has the three big teams of AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan. Spain’s La Liga will always remain popular if only because of the heated rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the richest clubs in the world. None of these can hold a candle to the worldwide appeal of the English Premier League, which owns the most expensive television rights in Europe.
3 The English Game
It used to be that the English game was known for its speed, physicality and the long ball, in which defenders in the back would punt the ball upfield in the hope that a teammate would be able to latch on to it. While speed and physicality are still hallmarks of the English game and the long ball is still sometimes used, the game has pretty much evolved, thanks to the influx of foreign talent into the Premier League.
Arsenal was one of the first to keep the ball on the ground, playing a delicious and attractive game designed by Arsene Wenger that won over fans and critics alike. Of course, the only problem is that the team has failed to win any major trophies, with the last coming in 2005 during the FA Cup. That was the year it beat Manchester United, England’s most successful club, which has been able to translate style into trophies.
These days, clubs like Wigan, Swansea, Liverpool and Everton have converted their styles to play possession and passing football. This attractive football, combined with the league’s ability to attract top-notch players, has helped it secure billions of dollars in television money from all over the world.
2 Television Rights
There are a lot of things that need to be corrected in English football right now. The heavy use of foreign talent has greatly diluted the number of local players, and this in turn has translated into a lack of success by the country’s national team. Despite being the home of football, the country has only won one major tournament. This is the World Cup, and even that came way back in 1966.
It has been heartache after heartbreak ever since, including painful penalty defeats to Germany in the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96, to Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, to Portugal in Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, and to Italy in Euro 2012. To think that the 2000's were featured the golden generation of David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and the likes.
One thing that England football has been successful in, is its marketing of television rights. Consider the money that the English Premier League is pulling in from domestic sources alone. These include:
$4.8 billion from Sky and BT for the rights to the live games
$285 million from BBC for Match of the Day highlights
Additionally, the league will also be selling near-live rights and Internet rights to the games.
Then, there are the television rights overseas. From 2013 to 2016, the league will earn at least $3.2 billion, up by more than half a billion from the previous period of 2010 to 2013. The increase in fees has been staggering, including 12,400 percent in Myanmar, where television rights have increased from a mere $320,000 to $40 million.
Other areas where fees for the television rights to the English Premier League have increased significantly are:
Sub-Saharan Africa - $273 million to $329 million
Thailand - $61 million to $324 million
Scandinavia - $178 million to $257 million
United States - $67 million to $252 million
Malaysia - $104 million to $223 million
Americas - $34 million to $128 million
1 Comparison to Spain’s La Liga
Spain’s La Liga also has a significant following and television rights may actually be the closest challenger the English Premier League. However, La Liga does not have a formal system to sell the league as a whole. As a result, while giant clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona can pull $189 million per season, the number considerably drops off outside these two. Valencia and Atletico Madrid earn only around $64 million. Even worse, most of the other clubs only get around 10 percent of what Real Madrid and Barcelona earn.
Compare that to what English teams are earning as a result of television rights. For the 2011 and 2012 season, while then-champion Manchester City took in around $101 million, the lowest ranked team Wolves got almost $68 million. This is more than what the La Liga’s third place team is earning from television.
The number is even more impressive when compared to German Bundesliga teams. The Bundesliga is home to current European champion Bayern Munich, which is also one of the most successful clubs in the continent. Yet, for that particular season, it got less than half from television of what the lowest ranked English Premier League team earned.
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