Bestinau got that-
tThe USA Network encourages its Twitter audience to participate in the topic of Manchester City v Liverpool. The cable channel, whose tagline is “here for the characters,” will show the top-tier Premier League clash on Sunday morning US time, calling for gifs of characters “fierce enough to compete on the field in such an iconic matchup.” ”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a channel that largely shows reality TV, witty responses weren’t overly forthcoming. There were only eight responses in total, five of which came from accounts on other channels owned by NBC, which owns the rights to action in the Premier League.
“Peacock” suggested Ron Swanson, or Parks and Recreation, would be a “perfect defender with a hard nose”. “SyFy” nominated the handsome Tate from the monster-strewn comedy Astrid and Lilly save the world† “E!” chose Paris Hilton for “galloping in our hearts and on the field”, which made more sense when you heard that the channel has new episodes of Paris in love every Tuesday evening.
A game effort by some social media executives, but perhaps the reactions are indicative of where the big game is right now in terms of global interest. We are used to hearing that the Premier League is an international product, that it is viewed in “188 of the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations”.
We also know the fan clubs in places far from the Etihad and Anfield (and for those in Delhi this weekend, the Manchester City supporters group will be watching live this weekend at the “virtual-reality-led entertainment gaming center” Smaaash at the Radisson Blu). But will this match stop traffic in Mumbai? Will the game be on everyone’s lips in Guadalajara?
It is a question that is not easy to answer. The Premier League does not share international viewing figures for its matches. It prefers to talk more broadly about their reach and the cumulative audience of 3 billion plus for all matches in all countries over the course of a season.
These big numbers are calculated by Nielsen, the ratings expert, who researches his audience for the Premier League. Approached by the Observer for an estimate of the likely global audience for City v Liverpool, Nielsen Sport gave a slightly more sober number. As “one of the most-watched matches of recent seasons”, it would probably reach more than 20 million live viewers around the world. Or about five million more than the season finale of line of duty managed on BBC1 last year.
To make a football comparison, FIFA claims that the 2018 World Cup final was watched by 884 million people at home on their television screens (with a further 232 million watching outdoors or digitally).
Another instructive comparison could be: the classic† La Liga likes to say that the reach of its biggest match is about 650 million people (that is, those who can catch some of it at any given time). The actual live view is over 100 million, still a lot bigger than the total number expected to be City and Liverpool.
To play a single league game against the World Cup final, the most watched sports match in the world and a global event, may not be in contrast to the same. The classicMeanwhile, it is a match of historic importance no matter where Real Madrid and Barcelona are in the rankings.
The debate over the place of competition between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the list of major rivalries in the Premier League is a reminder that City against Liverpool has not always been the biggest game in the English top league, less than five years ago.
Deloitte’s authoritative Money List of the biggest clubs in world football made headlines this year when it put City at the top of the rankings, after totaling €645 million (£540 million) in revenue in the 2020-21 season. But another telling statistic in the report was that of City’s social media followers, as close to a proxy for global support as is publicly available.
On Facebook and Instagram, City had 70 million followers, less than any other club in the top 10 bar Tottenham. The biggest English clubs by that calculation were Chelsea and, far ahead with 130 million Facebook and Instagram followers, City’s neighbors and 20-time champions, Manchester United.
All of this brings us (roughly) back to NBC’s cross-channel Premier League promotional push. The broadcaster, which has 13 side channels but is also one of the traditional big three commercial networks in the US, has reportedly pledged £2 billion recently to extend its Premier League rights until 2028. The US broadcaster has paid for foreign “football” rights, coming after stiff competition from rivals, including Disney-owned ESPN.
So it’s not surprising that the broadcaster uses all of its channels to promote the Premier League product. But it’s also true that NBC wouldn’t have committed such money if the investment had been determined by a single fixture.
The Premier League as a whole is the compelling product and it’s not just US broadcasters who think so. In the coming years, revenues from the Premier League’s overseas TV rights (once given away for free) will exceed domestic revenues for the first time. Manchester City v Liverpool may not be the most watched game in world football, but the Premier League is a worldwide hit every weekend of the season.