With the league commencing from 14th August, advertisers have much to gain by engaging with the league’s premium audience.
The schedule for the 30th season of the Premier League has been announced and the enthusiasm among its fans is grandiose already. With a nine-month action-packed schedule commencing from 14th August, all football fans are brimming with excitement. With the rise of football in India, the league has been witnessing growing viewership numbers over the years. Premier League stands out to be the most watched and supported international football league among Indian fans as per a Brand Finance research.
As stated by the Premier League, over 150 million Indians religiously follow teams and players over the year. With a large number of fans supporting the top teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and last season’s winner Manchester City, this has led to their official clubs now being organised across multiple cities with the membership crossing more than 500 in each club.
Dhruv Dua, a lighting consultant by profession and the president of Manchester United Supporters Club, New Delhi chapter shared that, “To begin I think the first tryst with proper football was the 1998 World Cup. We definitely discussed football in school but the World Cup had me hooked, to football and Beckham. What followed was the start of the broadcast of the league in India in 2001. We were hooked.”
He further explained, “The idea to start the supporters club came around 2006. We were already a bunch of guys fresh into college getting together on weekends to watch the games. We decided to make it official and get all the fans to a single venue to meet, drink and discuss all things Man Utd. ”
When asked about his view on the upcoming season, Dhruv stated, “We are super optimistic for the season. We keep the morale high at the club with constant games and contests. A lot of people look at football as a morale booster in these grim times and we have strived to give them exactly that."
Over the years, the growing fan base for football in India has seen a phenomenal rise in numbers. Ranging from young devotees of the game to matured analysts, PL has also built a strong brand value for itself through its broadcast in India. Now with fan club interests spreading and extending to tier 2 cities, several data suggest that India is the second-largest fan base of Manchester United.
The growth was crazy and we have loved every bit of the journey. It's a big family now. We have grown up with each other. We are spread across states and countries connected via our WhatsApp groups. We have fans from 50+ in age to freshers from college. We have fans join us from all over the world and have always been told that our atmosphere is the best they've ever experienced,” further shared Dhruv.
Mayur Bhosale, marketing and events head at Chelsea FC India Supporters Club shared that, “The club was founded in 2006 in the city of Mumbai, which initially began with 4 people and now is spread across 42 cities. In 2014, we received our Gold affiliation from Chelsea FC and the first Chelsea FC supporters club in India.”
“Now to keep the morale of the group high during this time, we constantly keep the group engaged with games and quizzes. Last year too we held an online FIFA competition where we saw a large number of fans turn up to be a part. We have also conducted the Blue Arena, a carnival for Chelsea fans 5 times since 2014, it is an exclusive Chelsea fan club event where a lot of games and other activities take place,” added Mayur.
Ambarish Adhikari, General Manager - PMG Sports shared that, “Football has always had its set of followers in India and the Premier League’s viewership has only been getting stronger year on year. Properties such as Premier League help brands to reach out to a young audience with propensity to spend. An association with PL will help brands reach out and engage with digital first consumers.
“LIVE sports will continue to draw audiences on TV. Live Sports are very sponsor friendly as they allow advertisers to showcase their ads right through the game. Today, being present on T.V is not only about ads spots. With in-game branding innovation on the rise, brands have more integration opportunities than ever before. For those brands who are sitting on the fence, it surely makes sense to give it a shot,” added Ambairsh.
The announcement of PL’s 30th season is not just great news for football fanatics but also a formidable opportunity for brands to explore this platform. Over the years PL has proven to offer a higher affinity of the premium audience, even as per a YouGov BrandIndex study, PL fans in India are significantly more brand positive than the general population. Adding to this, the GlobalWebIndex report from the last season of PL states that the fans largely tend to purchase brands they see advertised on the PL matches.
With the football excitement already running high with the recently concluded Euro 2020 and COPA America, PL’s upcoming season can surely expect a warm welcome. The league at present is at its competitive best, with emerging teams making shocking breakthroughs during the league and teams now having a lot more fixtures being consequential to game results. Another exciting aspect about this season is that the edition has 9 top team fixtures within the first 50 days of the league starting. The brand positivity also seen on PL matches has over the years effectively urged various categories of advertisers to leverage PL in building a strong associative value with the audience. Taking all these aspects into consideration, this is a growing opportunity for brands to jump on and not miss.