Premier League has slowly and steadily become one of the biggest football league for fans and commercial brands in India.
After cricket, football has the most fan following in India. The success of the Indian Super League has further increased the fanbase for the sport in India. Majority of the fanbase in India has largely been following European football.
In Europe, the Premier League (PL) has stood out in India. The English league has some of the best clubs in the world that have a massive global fan following. PL has managed to come up with creative ideas to cater to a big audience in India.
Premier League continues to extend its reach in India
Over the years, the Premier League has built a strong brand in India. The English league has been organizing fan parks that have stalls for various clubs. Most importantly, there have been big screens in these parks for streaming some of the biggest games in the League.
Star Sports has been leading the way for broadcasting PL in this decade. As per the recent BARC data, the total reach of the Premier League in India has surpassed 6.2 crore fans, an increase of 50% year-on-year basis. Over the year’s advertisers have shown a growing interest in the league and its audience.
PL has also paved the way for sports bars across the country. Fans enjoy games every weekend in sports bars, making it a popular recreation activity in most of the cities in India. Brands have also leveraged this digital and real popularity of the league and clubs. The social media chatter was inclined towards beer brands, fantasy sports and online shopping with reference to the league.
Fan Clubs have prospered in India
Manchester United have one of the biggest fanbases in India. MUFC is the most popular club in India. As per a survey, 21% of Indian football fans support United. The club has over 14 official fans clubs in India (as per Man Utd’s official website) with a combined fan base of over 1.5 lakhs.
Dhruv Dua, president of MUFC-D (Delhi), started the group with a friend seven years ago. The group officially got recognized by the club back in 2015, now hosts regular screenings for all big fixtures that involve Manchester United.
In an interview, Dhruv shared, “Attendance-wise we are huge. We don’t put up any advertisements. We just create an event on our Facebook page and people show up. That’s how much people love United here in Delhi.” Data also suggests that the second biggest fan base for MUFC is situated in India.
Other than MUFC, the Chelsea FC India Supporters Club, first set up in 2006, has a fairly good number of fans participating in matchday events. These clubs in association with the brands that are affiliated with the league have also worked to bring the whole stadium-like experience for consumers.
League duration an important factor for marketers
Another important contributing factor is the long duration of the league with games being scheduled every weekend, whereas other leagues last only for a few months. As per a recent report on Premier League, 57% of fans showcased brand loyalty, and 30% of the PL audience on an average strongly identified with the perception of being ambitious and adventurous and tend to buy brands they see advertised.
The data revealed that PL viewers are active advocates of sports, electronics and luxury brands. It also suggests that the average fan is an affluent 29 years old, a bracket that is lucrative for advertisers across multiple sectors.
Brands with no on-ground activation also enjoy success with PL
Brands with no on-ground activation or fan engagement should be working towards providing more in-home experiences, giving their consumers similar avenues to engage with the game and celebrate their favorite teams and players. This can be done through working with official fan clubs across key markets for developing exciting contests, enriching the match-viewing experience with exclusive player/game content, and various other collaborations.
Recently, Budweiser virtually celebrated the historic victory of Liverpool FC, as they were crowned the 2020 champions. A watch party was curated that involved ace comedians and Liverpool fans Anirban Das Gupta, Kumar Varun, and Rahul Subramanian. A few lucky fans also got a chance to get their hands on a replica of the Premier League trophy.
Other than all of the above, Premier League also gives brands an opportunity to engage with and explore opportunities that fuel unity and bring people together. Given their commitment to football, they analyze opportunities with PL to further connect with fans and engage with them not just once in four years or just for few months (like IPL or ISL for 2-3 months) every year, but on a year-round basis for a longer duration of time, through immersive experiences around the sport through partnerships, digital content and innovations.
By Aashish Jaju