As the Premier League juggernaut sets off for another season, I thought it would be interesting to take a look the data to explore how similar or different the fanbase is for each of the teams.
I’ve used Global Web Index data as the source here, which covers 16-64s in 48 global markets (and in some cases GWI Sports which covers 16 major global markets) and I’m going to use ‘fan’ as shorthand for someone who supports a club as either their main or secondary team (i.e. not someone with just a passing interest).
First up, just how popular is the Premier League, globally?
21.4% of people around the world either watch, follow or take an interest in it. This puts the EPL in sixth place among all sporting events and behind only the Champions League and NBA in terms of annual league properties.
In the markets covered, this translates into around 552m 16-64s engaging with the EPL.
It’s quite interesting to look at where fans are based around the world. The traditional big 6 teams all have a pretty similar distribution of their fan base, with big spikes in China, India and Brazil. Markets such as Mexico, Vietnam and the USA also account for a significant chunk of the fan base for all of these clubs. Some of this is due to sheer population size, but it does show the traction of the Premier League in these markets.
We can also see the power of individual players to drive interest in a club: almost 5% of Liverpool’s fans are in Egypt and 8% of Spurs fans are in South Korea. The first team to sign an Indian player to the Premier League would be very interesting, but this does raise the question of whether these fans stay with the team once their favourite local player moves on.
So what do we know about the fans of each club?
Liverpool have the oldest fans, with an average age of 34. Brighton fans are the most youthful, averaging just over 31 years (remember this only covers adults aged 16-64). The bigger, more global clubs have a very slightly older fan base than some of the smaller clubs, but there’s not much in it.
Across all teams, 62% of EPL fans are male and 38% are female, but there are some quite large variations between the clubs.
Tottenham has the lowest % of female fans (only 32.9%) with Brighton leading the way on 42.2%.
This chart looks at how many fans fall into the ‘high’ or ‘highest’ income segments for the country they live in (so it’s relative income levels).
Some quite big differences here, with Fulham fans (defying all stereotypes…) being the most affluent, with almost 45% having high income levels. At the other end of the scale, just 31.2% of Wolves fans fall into these categories.
The Big 6 clubs are all towards the bottom of this chart, which suggests that their more global fan base is also (relatively) less well off. The global number here is 26.7% so all EPL fans are, typically, better off than the average person.
Brentford fans are the most likely (35.5%) to have a degree, with most clubs at around the 33% figure. Everton brings up the rear, with only 25.5% of their fans being educated to degree level or higher. The global average here is 28.3%.
Let’s look at some attitudes and values.
Nottingham Forest fans are the most inclusive, with 72.7% believing that all people should have equal rights, with just 49.2% of Everton fans agreeing with the sentiment.
Everton sit at the bottom of this chart at just 49.2%. The global average for this statement is 57.3%, meaning all but four of the EPL clubs fans are ahead of that.
Forest fans are clearly a progressive bunch, also topping the charts for being keen to help the environment.
Everton, Leeds and Leicester again make up the bottom three here, with just 47% of Everton’s fans agreeing. That’s still ahead of the global average of 45.5%, mind you.
Coming off the back of a highly successful Women’s Euros, which team’s fans are the most engaged in women’s sport? Most teams are around the 60% level, but the Big 6 clubs are all at the lower end of the scale, around 50%. This could well be down to cultural differences in some of the global markets where these clubs have a lot of their fans.
(This data precedes Euro 2022 so we might expect the numbers to change a bit in the near future).
Response to sponsorship
This is an interesting one, looking at how many fans say they’d be more likely to purchase a brand that sponsors their team. The Big 6 bring up the rear here, at around 46-49%, whereas the likes of Crystal Palace and Brighton are up at 60%.
Presumably there’s a connection here between the more global nature of the Big 6 clubs and their fans feeling a little more distant from the club and less receptive to sponsoring brands. It’s also likely to be partly due to the sheer number of partners that the bigger clubs have, and the more global nature of those brands.
What do EPL fans expect from the brands they buy?
56.5% of Crystal Palace fans expect brands to be socially responsible, with most clubs at around 50% but just 38.6% of Everton fans agreeing.
Around 50% of EPL fans also say they want brands to help improve their knowledge or skills, and around 40% want brands to help them improve their image or reputation.
Buying premium products
Brighton fans (48%) are the most likely to buy the premium version of products, closely followed by Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Again we see some of the smaller clubs at the top of this chart, and the Big 6 all at the bottom end.
By definition, a post like this can only ever scratch the surface of insight into an audience, and if anyone wants to do a more detailed analysis as the foundation for developing a commercial, fan engagement or sponsorship strategy, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org