On the surface of things, there is little to suggest why the English Premier League (EPL) enjoys the astonishing global reach that it does. Germany's Bundesliga is undoubtedly the trendier and more prestigious league.
Meanwhile, La Liga has a storied history with a far greater number of world-class footballers gracing the league over the last decade. Despite this, neither of these leagues even comes close to the global influence and popularity that is currently enjoyed by the English Premier League.
It is by far the most-watched sports league on planet Earth; an estimated 643 million households in 212 territories tuned into the 2018-19 season. But what is it that actually makes the EPL so popular around the world, and why does it enjoy such a staggering amount of influence in the world of football? Let's take a closer look to find out.
Culture, History & Brand Power
As the somewhat tepid performance of English football on the world stage over the past few decades would attest, it's certainly not world-beating talent that is drawing audiences of billions to the EPL. As Richard Scudamore, the former Chief Executive of the EPL until he stepped down in 2018 has explained, it's more about the unique culture and history of the league, which makes it more marketable to a global audience than many other leagues.
Many of the most well-known teams in the league, such as Aston Villa, can trace their roots back to the middle or late 19th century. Alongside all of that history comes plenty of the same pomp that makes British brands such as the Royal Family and the Harry Potter Empire so popular on the world stage. There are the ornate crests that adorn the strips of some of the most popular teams, which are sold in their millions via overseas online stores on the likes of WeChat and Alibaba.
There is a unique atmosphere that has pervaded English football matches for over a century that simply cannot be replicated in stadiums in France, Germany, and Spain. There is also the simple fact that England is the historical and spiritual home of the sport of football, which is enough to persuade global fans of the sport to watch the EPL.
Technology & Convenience
Of course, there are some factors that are out of the control of the EPL that make it so appealing to international audiences. One major factor that has been repeatedly acknowledged is the role of time zones. Since English football matches take place in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), they are perfectly positioned for global broadcasting.
If a fixture kicks off in England at 3 pm, then viewers in Asia will be tuning in at around 10 pm, while viewers in North America will be able to watch the match with their morning coffee. This convenient time zone is the same reason why the London Stock Exchange is the epicenter of global financial trading.
Then there is the simple fact that EPL matches are broadcast in the most widely spoken and understood language, English. This simply makes the EPL more accessible to a wider range of viewers than any of the other European leagues. Despite efforts by the Bundesliga and La Liga to broadcast more content in English, they still have a lot of catching up to do.
This same accessibility can be seen in one of the most popular activities that EPL fans take part in; football betting. People in dozens of countries around the world can now use internet betting platforms to wager on EPL matches in real-time, with a staggering amount of markets to choose from. Given the increasing centrality of betting to football consumption worldwide, the enhanced accessibility of EPL betting is likely to further cement the league's dominance on the world stage.
Unique Television Coverage
Finally, it is worth focusing on the unique television coverage of EPL games and the way that this helps to drive the popularity of the game. International broadcasting rights for EPL games generate far more money than those for any other league.
The EPL picked up around $6 billion in international broadcasting revenues for last year's season, which is close to 10 times the amount earned by the Bundesliga from overseas broadcasting dues. Part of the reason why TV coverage of the EPL is more popular is the factors described above, but there is something else at play.
Put simply, the TV coverage of the EPL is often of higher quality, with greater depth and with a much wider range of viewing options than can be found with other leagues. This, combined with the uniquely electric atmosphere that permeates English football, is what has made the EPL a global TV supernova.
These are the reasons why the English Premier League dominates global football. As things currently stand, there is little chance that the EPL's position will be threatened anytime soon.