Emojis, speed and colonialism: why is it that people like the Premier League, and just how much do they like it?
We decided to do some research into this topic at the start of this year’s season.
It’s the beginning of August, so the new Premier League season has now begun. We aren’t going to tell you transfer news and won’t guess which team will prevail at the end of this year’s football season. We want instead, to share with you some information about viewers’ moods as they wait for the coming season, how often they (we! you!) are ready to watch matches, and which match or matches from previous seasons viewers cherish in their hearts.
We’ll also share fans’ own reasoning about why it is that the English Premier League is, simply put, the most popular league on the planet.
According to a plethora of reports — and here we have one of the freshest of them all — the English Premier League is the most closely watched European football league. Some reports claim that the Premier League is the most popular in the world, and not only in Europe.
With this we would never argue, but we’ve decided to find out exactly why this is so. We visited trends on Reddit and Quora and didn’t even need to ask, because people have been discussing this topic all by themselves for the last several years. We reviewed a great number of trends and conversations, and almost all of them we could easily divide into four groups.
4 reasons that people have a preference for the English Premier League, according to the fans, themselves:
Speed and Spectacular Elegance
A popular opinion is also that spectators in the English Premier League are attracted by the speed and entertainment value of football. The Italians have tactics — and the Germans too. But with the Premier league we have fires and hurricanes. Those who support this theory talk about tactics across all of football, but are strangely silent about the reasons why the Premier League bypasses Spanish or, for example, South American football, in terms of entertainment value.
First, because they are really good to watch. Fast. Energetic. Skilful. Goals. Second, many people watch them. It allows for easier connection with others who like football. (teetoose on Reddit)
But the element that makes the difference between Premier League and La Liga, for example, is passion. Any mid or low table team in Premier League, such as Brentford, Crystal Palace or Leeds can be exticing to follow. Even if a team is poor on field, there is all this captivating drama surrounding the club. You cannot say the same about Almeria or Girona (no disrespect) (craciunc93 on Reddit)
Because its the best quality soccer. (cheetah-21 on Reddit)
Where would we be without marketing? Many viewers are convinced that it is the amount of money that the Premier League spends on promotion, as well as the quality of their advertising, that make the whole world watch their games.
Money. Premier League spent ridiculous amounts early on marketing and selling the league allover the world. Now it doesn’t need to so much because its so big worldwide it just markets itself. (ChrisGadge on Quora)
English Language and Commentators
A logical assumption is the theory that the English premiere is watched all over the world because…well…because it’s presented in English. We can understand commentators and follow its news no matter where we are in the world. A great number of Americans are fond of this idea, and they follow English football because it’s much easier than following French football, for instance. But fans from across the whole world agree on this point. Many of them add that the Premier League unites players from across the world, while in other national leagues, most players are local.
To boot, many fans agree that commentators are what make it worth watching English football, although here the details fans provide differ — and interestingly, by a whole 180 degrees. Some claim that English commentators are calm and measured, and others say that they brighten up even boring matches with their emotions.
I firmly believe its because of the English language and how widely it is spoken and understood throughout the world. (Ok_Giraffe6654 on Reddit)
This is definitely the biggest factor imo. Additionally they were early to update their quality of broadcast to the standards set by USA sports. (yourfriendkyle on Reddit)
It’s all in the Thrill
The most widely supported theory, however, has to do with surprise: you can never predict who will win or how the forces will be distributed, even further down in the ranking than fourth place. In French Ligue 1 you’ve only got PSG, in the Bundesliga and the LA League there are two teams at this level, in Italian Serie A there are three… But only in the Premier League do we have a situation in which there are virtually no underdogs. This vague but sweet theory confirms that yes, if fans believe in surprises and chance fate, nothing is in vain.
Mainly because of the thrill. You never know which team will beat the other. Which is not in case of La Liga or Bundesliga. In these two, the thing that matters is who is the winner in El Classico or Bayern-Dortmund matches. The competition in the league is very low. (Krishna Menan on Quora)
Because who wants to watch Barca vs elche or Granada. Who ever reads this won’t be able to tell me one player from elche or granada not even 1. Ask Barca fans and they won’t know either. Seem to have it all figured out when they fighting midgets (gunnersami on Reddit)
Many fans also believe that the Premier League is as popular as it is because of its accessibility. For example, in the US, matches can be watched on Disney+. Many TV channels around the world have the rights to show PL games, while other leagues have many fewer broadcast partners.
Only the odd answer didn’t fall into one of our four categories. Other answers were “It’s all about bets”, “It’s just good old colonialism” and something about matches being purposefully directed. No, we aren’t joking!
There is the element of camera work as well. I personally found it harder to watch the Spanish and the Italian league on screen as the camera is zoomed out during normal action and it’s harder to identify the players. While the EPL has a more zoomed in camera set up which makes me feel closer to the pitch. But it could be just me. (lazymonkey9 on Reddit)
So ok, we now know why we love the Premier League so much. But how do we watch its matches?
What else to do other than survey the fans, themselves? Among them were both very dedicated fans (who have been watching Premier League matches since 1999) and total beginners, for whom this season will be only the second. We did not ask them for their personal data, but did clarify what clubs they support, in order to be sure that there was true diversity in the Premier League. It turned out that yes, there is. An approximately equal number of our respondents support Chelsea, Man City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, with slightly fewer favouring Tottenham, Leicester and Westham.
We asked fans if they like to make comments on matches themselves, at least for their friends. 16.9% said that they do, half of our respondents explained that it depends on their current mood, and 32% said that they favour the comments of professionals to their own.
We also wanted to learn how fans feel about toxic messages during a match. After all, as we wrote earlier, it is precisely in the Premier League that we see a particularly high percentage of racist comments towards the players. Of course this is odd, because the English championship really is multinational. Nevertheless… It turns out that the majority of fans (55.9%) are annoyed by insulting comments about players and a quarter of our respondents (25.4%) are indifferent to them. Only 8.5% of respondents admitted that sometimes they, themselves, have participated in such behaviour.
We also asked which Premier League game holds a special place in fans’ hearts: we expected that we might find a single “favourite” match in common. But it turns out that fans remember many different games. Ultimately, however, there were two matches which fans singled out more than others. Admittedly, one of these wasn’t a championship match at all, but an FA Cup match. So many fans named this particular match that it would be negligent of us to simply ignore it.
The most memorable Premier League game was Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers. The score was 3:2, and the match took place on May 13th, 2012.
Man City needed to bypass Manchester United, while Queens Park Rangers needed to keep hold of their place in the League. It was the last match of the season. The decisive goal came from Aguero, who was playing as a substitute. Later, English bookmakers called this goal “the most expensive goal in history”: they had to pay out 20 million pounds to people who bet on a “Man City” victory with a score of 1:2 in favour of “QPR”. In a Sky Sports poll, English fans picked this moment as the most memorable and brightest in the history of the Premier League.
The most memorable FA Cup match was Chelsea v Arsenal with a final score of 6:0. This match took place on March 22nd, 2014.
The bitter irony is that this match was an anniversary — the thousandth anniversary! — of former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. Later, Arsenal managed to do away with Chelsea on more than one occasion, including in an FA Cup final. The score, of course, wasn’t as impressive, however.
Finally, we asked fans to share which emoji reflects their attitude to what happens in English Premier League matches best and most often. Here are our top-5 answers:
And that’s the whole range of emotions and therefore represents the whole future of any Premier League season!