Premier League Viewing Figures
Football TV Audience Figures – Who Is The Premier League’s Most Watched Club?
The Premier League has cemented its status as the world’s most popular football competition over the behind closed doors era. We have performed a deep dive into the figures to show how TV audiences have rocketed in the UK and across the globe while fans are stuck indoors. These are the numbers that underpin the Premier League’s dominant status in the sporting world:
3.2 billion – Nielsen research found that 3.2 billion people watched Premier League football during the 2018/19 campaign. That represented a 6% increase on the previous season. Nielsen is the leading research agency for TV viewership figures, so those stats should be considered pretty robust. However, they only include standard in-home viewing, and not out-of-home and mobile device viewing. A number of people around the world watch Premier League action in bars, and stream it on a range of devices, so the actual figure is likely to be a lot higher.
4.7 billion – Research from a company called SPORT+MARKT has found that the Premier League boasts an annual TV audience of 4.7 billion. The consultancy firm found that games are viewed in 643 million homes around the world, along with a host of bars and restaurants. More than 1.4 billion people around the world identify as fans of a particular Premier League club, according to SPORT+MARKT research. China has the most Premier League followers, with 300 million. India is next at 147 million, while there is an audience of 290 million people across Africa. This research was conducted back in 2011, so the figure has probably spiked since then, as streaming has improved and broadcast deals have been tied up around the world. It is therefore safe to assume that more than 5 billion people watch Premier League football at some point during the season, which is impressive when you consider that the current global population stands at 7.8 billion.
1.9 million – The average viewership figure for Premier League games shown live on Sky Sports in the UK during the 2019/20 season stood at 1.9 million people prior to the lockdown. This only includes the UK market and excludes people watching in pubs and bars, or streaming the action. Once again, that is a pretty impressive figure when you consider that the population is 67 million, many people do not have a Sky Sports subscription, and many people go to friends’ houses to watch games – something Sky cannot effectively monitor.
2.7 million – The Sky Sports viewership figure for the first Premier League game after the season resumed on 17th June. It was a drab 0-0 draw between Aston Villa and Sheff Utd at Villa Park. The game was notable for a total failure from Hawk-Eye, which failed to notice that Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland fumbled Oliver Norwood’s free-kick over the line. Aston Villa earned a point, and they ended up finishing a point clear of Bournemouth and Watford to avoid relegation in dramatic fashion. Bournemouth had a superior goal difference, so Hawk-Eye is far from popular among Cherries fans. Despite it being a pretty dull game between two newly promoted teams, it still represented a 43% increase on the average TV audience prior to the lockdown.
3.4 million – A larger TV audience of 3.4 million tuned in to watch Man City beat Arsenal 3-0 later in the evening on 17th June. That amounted to a huge increase on the 2019/20 season average for Sky Sports live TV games. The match was notable for a calamitous display from Arsenal centre-back David Luiz, who came off the bench to replace the injured Pablo Mari, and then committed a howler that allowed Raheem Sterling in to score the opener. He was then sent off four minutes after half-time, allowing Man City to run riot against 10 men.
4.9 million – The broadcaster reporter that SkySports.com attracted 4.9 million unique users in the UK on 17th June, and that there were more than 12 million views of Premier League videos, which include highlights of the action and reaction from players, managers and pundits.
3.9 million – The BBC was permitted to show live games from the top-flight of English football since then 1987-88 season. Every single game remaining in the 2019/20 season post-lockdown was shown on either Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC or Amazon Prime. The BBC’s first game was not exactly a glamour tie, as it pitted struggling Bournemouth against Crystal Palace on 20th June, but it still pulled in a peak audience of 3.9 million and an average audience of 3.6 million across the match. Luka Milivojevic curled in a sumptuous free-kick and Jordan Ayew swept home Patrick Van Aanholt’s cross to hand the Eagles an important 2-0 victory on the south coast.
5.5 million – The Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool on 21st June set a new record for a domestic broadcast. Sky Sports reported that a peak audience of 5.5 million people tuned in to watch the game, while there was an average audience of 5 million. That broke the previous record set when Man Utd played Man City in 2012. The Merseyside derby proved to be another damp squib, as it resulted in a 0-0 draw, but the executives at Sky Sports were not complaining. The clash was one of Sky’s 20 allocated fixtures which would be broadcast on its free-to-air channel, Pick, which contributed 1.9 million average viewers. It means that 3.1 million viewers still tuned in to Sky Sports’ usual subscription channels.
5.7 million – Southampton’s 1-0 victory over Man City set a new record when 5.7 million people watched the match on the BBC. “Having the Premier League has been great for our viewers,” said Steve Rudge, BBC lead executive for football. “We were delighted to deliver this game to the widest free-to-air audience.” The Saints had Che Adams to thank for a superb strike that put the defending champions to the sword.
25.2 million – Within a week of the Premier League returning in June, 25.2 million Brits had watched some action live on TV, according to research conducted by Anthony Goddard, head of media research at Publicis. That represents more than 41% of the population. The 2019/20 Premier League season became the most watched ever in the UK, and 2020/21 should surpass it after broadcasters reported a strong start to the new campaign. The action continues to be held behind closed doors, and lockdown measures have been tightened across the country, so fans are likely to spend the winter huddled around TV screens.
3.3 million – A peak audience of 3.3 million people watched on as Spurs beat Man Utd 6-1 at the start of October. Sky Sports reported a total viewership of 14 million that day, and many tuned in to watch Liverpool’s humbling 7-2 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. It suggests that the record UK viewership figure for a Premier League game could be broken again this season. Man Utd are easily the world’s most popular Premier League team, and their games have surely been racking up huge audiences across the globe this year, so the onus is now upon Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to improve their results and performance levels.
1.7 million – Liverpool were the most popular Premier League team among UK TV audiences last season, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). Before the lockdown, their games saw an average TV viewership of 1.7 million people. That is based on average viewership as opposed to peak audience during a broadcast, which is always significantly higher. The Reds ended their 30-year title drought in emphatic fashion last term, finishing 18 points clear of defending champions Man City.
1.5 million – Man Utd attracted the second highest average viewing figures last season, despite fans enduring an underwhelming campaign. The Red Devils improved after snapping up Bruno Fernandes in the January transfer window – his form galvanised the squad and they ended up finishing third – but they put in a several turgid performances too. Man Utd were formerly the most watched team among UK audiences, but Liverpool are now firmly back on their perch. It will be fascinating to see who comes out on top in 2020/21.
1.3 million – Tottenham were the third most popular team among TV audiences last season, with almost 1.3 million average viewers for their games, according to BARB. That left Spurs ahead of Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal. Wolves and Everton were the other teams to secure an average TV audience of more than 1 million before the lockdown in the 2019/20 season. Viewership figures for all teams rocketed after the lockdown, with housebound Brits desperate for entertainment and unable to attend games in person. Wolves are firmly established in seventh place after winning a number of admirers thanks to their composed performances since securing promotion a couple of years ago.
625,427 – Bournemouth games had the lowest average TV audience last term. The Cherries’ five-year stay in the Premier League came to an end in heart-breaking fashion, as they finished just a point behind 17th placed Aston Villa. It is perhaps surprising to note that West Ham had the second lowest average audience (636,296), as the Hammers are often involved in entertaining games as a result of their attacking prowess and defensive ineptitude.
Crystal Palace had the third lowest average viewership (658,897). Despite finishing rock bottom, Norwich had the ninth best average audience (987,411), while relegated Watford also racked up a strong average of 814,270 prior to the lockdown. Around the world, games featuring Norwich and Watford are unlikely to have been as popular as those featuring Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Man City.