This is the text-only version of Chinese TV Market Report of 2014/2015 Barclays Premier League.
Brand Value of Barclays Premier League
Although Manchester United failed to return to the throne last season, they are still the team with the highest sponsorship revenues. Manchester United who are ranked 1st in sponsor revenue receive £47 million annually from their main sponsors, Chevrolet and Nike. Barcelona were the runners-up with £44 million, while 2 of the Top 3 came from the Premier League with Chelsea coming in at number three.
Premier League widened its advantage among the Top 5 Leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1). In 2013-14, the EPLs total revenue was £3.26 billion, even higher than Serie A and Ligue 1 combined, double the size of La Liga and approximately 30% more than the runners-up, Bundesliga.
Regarding broadcasting revenue, the Premier League made €2.24 billion in 2014-15. Fifteen teams exceeded 100 million Euros with Chelsea generating 138 million Euros, and QPR who finished last in the Premier League earning 90.8 million Euros from broadcast rights. The equality in broadcast revenue distribution indicates the incomparable operating capability and guarantees the income of clubs, particularly the small clubs who can still operate successfully in the transfer market. Compared with the EPL, the broadcasting revenue of La Liga only accounted for one third of their British counterparts which shows the effective operating mechanism of the EPL.
Behind this effective business model are the millions of EPL fans. According to statistics, the fanbase of Premier League exceeds 1.2 billion, as much as the population of India and 4 times that of America. The Premier League reached 4.2 billion TV viewers in 2014-15. Included in this figure are 584 million Asian fans (including Australia) with almost 974 million visits.
EPL’s presence in China
According to a research report conducted by Repucom last year, they found that China is the largest fanbase for the EPL with around 170 million followers, with 31% of EPL fans in Asia-Pacific and 51% of all Chinese football supporters. For the upcoming 2015/16 EPL season, Chinese EPL fans will be able to see matches across 20 local sports TV channels and also on online streaming platforms via PC, tablets and mobile phones.
According to the Baidu Index, the media exposure of the EPL tops the five major European football leagues in China due to their number one fanbase there. This media exposure, in turn, has enhanced the brand equity of EPL and increased the appeal of the brand for supporters in China.
Besides traditional media, social media data reflects the unique influence of the EPL. EPL has over 2.36 million followers on Sina Weibo while Bundesliga has 1.45 million followers, La Liga has 190,000 with Ligue 1 having only 101. At this time Serie A does not have an established presence on Sina Weibo.
If we look into the number of followers of specific football clubs on Chinese social media, we can see that 4 EPL clubs appear in the top 5 list of most followed football clubs on Sina Weibo with the Manchester duo both having an 8m plus follower base. Also 6 of the top 10 most followed football clubs on Sina Weibo are EPL clubs. In addition, EPL-related topics are the most popular on Sina Weibo except for Beijing Guoan’s Zhang Xizhe’s controversial move to Wolfsburg. Furthermore the number of EPL-related topics far outnumbers that of other major European football leagues on Sina Weibo.
To sum up, these numbers demonstrate the enormous influence of the EPL brand in China.
EPL in Chinese TV Market
Digital media has been growing rapidly in recent years but is subject to quality and bandwidth factors but TV is still the main channel for audiences to consume EPL contents. Our analysis shows that local TV audience of EPL have reached 350million in China with a 26.7% effective reach, which represents the highest level among the ‘Big Five’ with Bundesliga coming in with 23.9%, La Liga achieving 22% and Serie A getting only 9.2%.
The originally stagnant Pay-TV market has also shown good momentum in China in recent years. As part of EPL matches, the pay-per-view subscription model was adopted in China, with 3.12m Chinese subscribers last year, up 67% from the previous year. The positive figures fill us with much greater expectation for the prospect of Pay-TV in China. Apart from traditional TV, viewers of IPTV (including OTT and mobile) have reached 5.27million with video views up to 100 million.
The EPL was the most-covered European league in China, with an accumulative 4,768 hours in TV coverage last season, double the total coverage of other ‘Big Four’ European Leagues. Among EPL clubs, Arsenal enjoyed the highest coverage on TV with 16 matches broadcasted, followed by Manchester United (14), Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea (10).
EPL was also the most-watched European League of the ‘Big Five’. The ratings for EPL on local TV was 0.11, nearly four times more than Bundesliga’s 0.03 and well above the other four leagues’ 0.056. Comparison from a vertical level, we can see that average ratings of the beginning and the closing of the season were higher than that of the middle of the season.
Broadcast ratings collected from major TV stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, show that top of the table clashes between Chelsea VS Arsenal and Liverpool VS Man. Utd were the most-watched matches among EPL on BTV Sports with a 1.01 and 1.42 rating respectively. The two most-watched EPL matches on Great Sports were Arsenal VS Man. Utd and Liverpool VS Man. Utd with a 1.85 and 1.24 rating respectively. The top two on GDTV Sports were Man. Utd VS Chelsea and Chelsea VS Sunderland with a 1.75 and 1.77 rating respectively.
Analysis of viewers of the EPL and their values
When we compared the 2014/15 season viewing data with that of the 2013/14 season, we found that number of people aged 25 to 35 had increased and so had number of people with college degrees who accounted for 41.16 percent of all the viewership. Also, the number of people with monthly salaries exceeding 5900 RMB made up the majority of the EPL viewers. It is obvious that the EPL has attracted more elites which means the social influence and consuming ability of EPL viewers are gradually improving.
People under 40 accounted for over 90 percent of the online viewers. People under 39 made up 90 percent of the netizens who searched for the EPL, and the majority of them were aged 20 to 40. Among Weibo users that discussed topics about the EPL, people under 34 made up 94 percent with the majority of them aged between 20 and 34.
It was also noticed that EPL viewers are not only interested in football but also in fashion, entertainment and travel. The top 5 industries fans are most interested in are E-commerce, mobiles, cars, digital products and FMCG, where most sports sponsors come from.
The top 5 provinces/municipalities where more heated discussions about EPL took place on Weibo were Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, and Shangdong. Geographically speaking, EPL viewers are concentrated in more developed regions where college degrees and higher salaries are more common.
Fierce competition in the EPL and a greater consuming ability of viewers brought about more cable users. Compared to the 2013/2014 season, cable users in the 2014/15 season increased by 67 percent with the sales revenue of Super Sports for this season increasing by 150 percent, with 11.6 percent of the revenues earned from viewers using mobile devices.
EPL’s new marketing trends for upcoming season
According to the above data and content analysis, EPL’s new marketing trends for the upcoming season should cover high-quality resources, soft demand release, revolutionary innovations and media convergence.
EPL will increase its appeal and attract more attention and capital from football audiences, media, rights holders and sponsors with growing brand influence and commercial value. So the EPL will be able to further strengthen its brand advantage over the other four leagues with empowerment from these resources.
Soft demand release
As people’s living conditions improve it is highly possible that they will invest more time, money and energy in health, entertainment and sports. Individuals and groups will pay more attention to sport as a means of improving their physical and mental satisfaction. Sport in contemporary society should be used to enhance the spiritual and emotional behavior of fans. So how to release this soft demand from sports fans to watch the EPL needs to be explored by marketers and promoters.
EPL needs a revolutionary innovative approach to marketing campaigns in order to stand out from the multitude of competitors. These subversion type innovations are needed to replace the homogenized, ambiguous and indistinctive methods.
There is a strong tendency to blend traditional media with new media. For top sporting events such as the EPL it’s inevitable that there is media integration between TV, radio, print and online newspapers, online streaming and social media where all will collaborate to play a major part in helping the EPL reach more people.
The 2015/2016 season of the EPL will begin next month and Yutang Sports will continually present timely news items, opinion articles and reports around the campaign, alongside other major sporting events such as NBA and La Liga. Coming soon!
Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick