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Premier League 2023/24 preview: What the stats say about English soccer’s commercial supremacy

The wealthiest soccer league in the world continues to reign supreme when it comes to social following, broadcast rights revenue and sponsorship earnings. Ahead of the new season, SportsPro delves into the data to identify the key trends behind English soccer’s long-established dominance.

9 August 2023 Josh Sim

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By now, the increasing number of zeros included in any Premier League-related deal will come as no surprise.

The English top flight continues to rank head and shoulders above every other soccer property, whether you compare broadcast revenue, sponsorship income or social following. With partnerships covering all regions of the world, and media rights distribution in the majority of territories, the league’s business is unmatched globally.

Ahead of the new season, SportsPro delves into the data housed within its Premier League commercial guide – a one-stop shop, exclusively for SportsPro+ premium members, to access the latest business intelligence and data pertaining to the competition’s commercial dealings – to pull out some of the most interesting statistical insights.

The league’s fan following spans the globe

Despite being a domestic competition, the Premier League clearly distinguishes itself as a truly global sports asset, boasting a huge level of fan interest from all over the world.

In eight of the 12 markets surveyed by SportsPro data partner Ampere Analysis in Q4 2022, the Premier League ranked in the top ten most popular sports competitions. It is the most-followed competition among sports fans not only in the UK, but also in markets such as Indonesia and South Africa.

Its broadcast rights revenue remains the envy of soccer

The Premier League has been successful at capitalising on its popularity at home and overseas. Its domestic broadcast rights deals with Sky, BT, Amazon and the BBC (for highlights only) – worth a combined US$1.91 billion per year – are the most valuable for any soccer property in its home market.

The Premier League will hope to increase the value of those deals in its next round of rights sales, which is expected to begin later this year. However, revenue pressures facing domestic broadcasters - as well as Viaplay’s decision to shut its UK business and Apple’s reported decision to prioritise global rights – suggest it may find it more challenging to do so.

Nevertheless, as Ampere’s data shows, revenue from international rights deals continues to grow and, for the first time in the Premier League’s history, is expected to surpass 50 per cent of the competition’s total broadcast income in the current cycle. That is largely down to lucrative agreements with broadcasters in major overseas markets, such as NBC Sports in the US, NENT-owned Viaplay in the Nordics, and BeIN Sports in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Premier League will hope to secure an improved deal for its next domestic rights cycle

Sorare’s sponsorship could be a sign of things to come

The Premier League’s central sponsorship portfolio continues to expand and now includes ten official partners, with blockchain sports game specialist Sorare the latest to ink a licensing agreement with England’s top flight. The deal sees Sorare pay a reported annual rights fee of UK£30 million (US$38.3 million), which is considerably more than what some of the league’s other sponsors are understood to be paying.

With some partnership deals close to their expiry date, the value of the Sorare agreement may signify the rising cost of Premier League sponsorships going forward. Electronic Arts (EA), the league’s lead partner, is thought to be in negotiations for an extension, while another rumoured partner for the league is Puma, which is reportedly close to replacing Nike as the competition’s match ball supplier.

The ‘big six’ continue to flex their financial muscles…

According to Sportico’s latest valuations, released in January, the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’ continue to flex their financial muscles and move clear of the remaining 14 teams. In fact, the value of on-the-market Manchester United, estimated to be worth US$5.95 billion, is more than all of the non-big six clubs combined, while both Liverpool and Manchester City aren’t far behind.

…as well as wielding huge social followings

The same chasm can be seen between the ‘big six’ and the rest of the top flight when it comes to their social following. Five of the six outnumber the following for the rest of the league combined, with United alone boasting double that of the majority of teams put together.

Newcastle are closing in on the elite

While the ‘big six’ are a world away from the rest of the Premier League, there are several teams increasing their value at a faster rate. Leading the pack is Newcastle United, whose value has soared by 63 per cent over two years. They have benefited from an influx of lucrative commercial deals, including a ‘UK£25 million per year’ pact with events company Sela, since being taken over by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) in 2021.

Meanwhile Fulham have also seen their value increase at a similar rate, with their value jumping by 58 per cent over two years, despite having the second-lowest average attendance of all clubs in the league. Behind them at 40 per cent is Aston Villa, who qualified for European soccer last season and boast the biggest social following of the remaining 14 teams.

Newcastle could soon challenge the 'big six' if they continue to increase their commercial revenue following their Saudi-led takeover

Betting dominates the shirt sponsorship scene

Heading into the new season, 18 of the 20 clubs have signed up a main shirt sponsor, with only Chelsea and Nottingham Forest having yet to strike a deal. Betting continues to be the dominant category for the most coveted club sponsorship inventory.

The likes of Burnley, Fulham and Aston Villa have all agreed new agreements with betting brands this summer, despite the looming ban on gambling sponsorship that will be in place from the end of the 2025/26 season.

Adidas continues to spend big on kit supplier deals

While the sports apparel industry fights economic headwinds, it hasn’t stopped major sportwear giants from paying huge sums to secure technical kit partnerships with the league’s teams.

Adidas’ recent renewal with Manchester United is valued at a league-high UK£90 million (US$115 million) per year, while the German brand is also paying UK£60 million (US$76.6 million) a year to supply Arsenal’s kits.

Puma only sponsors one Premier League outfit but that is champions Manchester City, who are paid UK£65 million (US$82.8 million) per year by the company, and Chelsea are paid handsomely by Nike for their kit deal, which is reportedly worth UK£60 million (US$76.6 million) a year.

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