Football as a spectator sport in the U.S. used to be the object of ridicule by the press. Now, Premier League Football coverage is getting a shot at capturing the hearts of sports fans in the States – and this time it will work.
Americans are passionate about sports, and the Premier League is already one of the most successful leagues in all of world sports. Some people forget that more people watch and play “soccer” worldwide than any American game, including baseball.
Accessibility is Key
However, the main reason the NBC venture is a result of the “can’t miss” marketing campaign that NBC has pushed to make Americans take another look at football the way it should be played. How? NBC is offering Premier League coverage across all of its networks –online, via smartphone, and via tablets – for free.
Brian Ross, editor of the e-zine MLN Sports, noted in the Huffington Post that this is the exact polar opposite of what that the four major American sports are doing. NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams currently offer their games on one local TV or radio station.
Every other out-of-market team’s games are only available on pay-per view, or by adding more pay channels to your cable subscription.
The only way a Cincinnati Reds fan, for example, can watch a game in New York City is to either hope it’s the game of the week on another cable sports network, go to a sports bar, or buy a ticket when the Reds play the Mets in New York.
All of those options are different levels of inconvenient.
World Football is A Breath of Fresh Air for U.S. Sports Fans
NBC knows that fans appreciate when they get more for less. Fans are tired of having to pay upward of $100 for a game ticket when the players are already getting paid millions. They’re sick of watching the news and seeing their favorite players get released because of drug possession, or hearing about another new safety precaution that alters the way the game is played.
What NBC has done by purchasing the broadcast rights to Barclays Premier League Football – and then making it available for free – is tell the American public that English Football is a great product.
It’s the next big thing to hit American sports, and NBC want to make it easy and cheap for everyone to experience the fun.
Drawing Americans In
Ross is so positive it will work this time that he predicts in ten years: “The NFL will be the No. 2 league in American sports. World football will rule.” It’s already started. According to Premier League.com, 9 million viewers have watched the 27 NBC broadcasts during the first five weeks of action.
The fan base in America is growing, as evident by the many clubs that exist to support Premier League Teams and watch games with their friends.
By giving it away, NBC is inviting people who are already rabid sports fans to embrace their product and become fans of the Premier League as well. It’s all about the marketing.
The Future of Soccer Broadcasts in the U.S.
Will Brian Ross’s prediction come true, though? Ten years from now, will Premier League football be more popular in the U.S. than NFL football? Think about this. American soccer viewership used to be nil.
If NBC started to broadcast Caterpillar Trucks racing at 50 mph, more viewers would have probably watched the trucks than soccer. Now, NBC’s marketing strategy and the growth of the sport’s fan base will change everything.
Not only that, but NFL football is facing multiple crises including the concussion issue and the discipline problems demonstrated by its overpaid players.
There seems to be a very good chance that Ross may be a self-proclaimed Nostradamus, and we will witness the rise a new number one spectator sport in the same generation that we see the fall of the NFL. Time will tell.
Michael Deaven is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.
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