As football and F1 grow in the US, more dollars could flow to the UK
As the traditional American pastime of baseball remains mired in existential crises, British sports are booming in the US
The English Premier League recently renewed its US TV rights package with a 250% increase in value, which made headlines not about football’s inability to progress in the US, but about plans to NBC to transform the EPL in the “Next NFL.” Meanwhile F1, led by seven-time champion and world star Lewis Hamilton, set viewership records in 2021 and is expected to do so again once the circuit begins in two weeks. His own groundbreaking TV deal is upon us.
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Even cricket now looks fearless by baseball’s long streak of batting and ball supremacy, as big backers line up behind the impending debut Major league cricket. It may not be long before Mike Trout tries the drummer.
Now the UK hopes to turn these new fans into visitors and investors. Ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, Britain’s public and private sectors came together to launch ‘The Great Campaign’, an effort to change international perceptions of the country and drive economic growth. Ten years later, the group launched a “Great Calling” campaign, launching red phone booths across New York. this week and the organization of a series of immersive events. In total, the campaign budget is just over $10 million.
Sport is at the center of the thrust. The EPL Trophy will be in Brooklyn on March 12 for a match-day experience hosted by former pros, while sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and soccer player Rio Ferdinand are among the British celebrities taking to social media to dispel misconceptions about their homeland.
What are these stereotypes?
“That we have bad food, which of course we don’t,” said Emma Wade-Smith, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America and Consul General in New York. “That we have stiff upper lip and that kind of stuff, and when you see the passion of our players and our fans…you realize it’s really for the birds.”
Wade-Smith and Great Calling gathered polls to back up their point. Among Americans aged 18-34, 41% thought Britons were “too polite to be serious about competitive sport”.
Football fans may be growing, but 24% of respondents said they first heard of the EPL from ‘Ted Lasso’, while just 7% identified themselves as EPL fans. This Gowanus bar which is full at 8 am on Sundays may not be entirely representative.
In the wake of COVID-19, British officials are hoping to bring these diehards to Wembley or Old Trafford. In 2019, the United States was third in terms of foreign tourists attending EPL football matches (behind only Ireland and Germany). And visitors who came to the country to watch sports spent 40% more money during their stay, according to UK government statistics. Overall, Americans made up the highest percentage of UK visitors in 2019, with 4.5 million tourists (11% of the country’s total).
The US is also the biggest foreign investor in the UK, according to Wade-Smith, supporting more than a million jobs. F1, for example, has been owned and backed by Colorado-based Liberty Media since 2016.
Investing isn’t always viewed with fondness – just ask the American soccer club owners who have come under fire for backing plans for a European Super League. But especially now, with renewed questions about the limitation of the sporting roles played by the leaders of Russia, Saudi Arabiaand Chinalook for the “special relationship” to become even more apparent on our grounds and locations.
“Whether it’s through the athletes and the players themselves, whether it’s through management and the fans, and the funding behind the sport,” Wade-Smith said, “I think it’s There are only positives that can come from more American influence in the UK, and more Brits getting involved in American sports.
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