The Premier League continues to thrive beyond England’s borders, with a staggering 1.87 billion people now following it worldwide. These fans interact with the league weekly through all kinds of media platforms. Due to its huge appeal to sports fans throughout the world, the league has developed commercially.

Matches are now broadcast to 189 nations, with specific regions being targeted as growth markets. North America remains the top region in the international sports market, accounting for 35% of broadcasts in 2023.

In the United States, as of 2021, soccer is now the second-most watched sport behind American football and has become increasingly popular with younger viewers. This demonstrates why the Premier League is so keen to establish itself as the most popular soccer league in the country ahead of the domestic Major League Soccer (MLS).

In the lead-up to the 2023-24 season, the Premier League Summer Series pre-season tournament took place in the US for the first time, which saw six clubs take part in matches and events in five East Coast cities. The inaugural competition, which ended in Chelsea being crowned as the champions, drew in roughly 44,000 spectators per game and a total of 264,879.

Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, West Ham United, and Wolverhampton Wanderers will all be preparing for the new season by playing pre-season friendly matches in the US in July.

However, the Premier League Summer Series 2024 was canceled, with some of the bigger clubs wanting to cut their own tour deals. It is unclear whether the Summer Series tournament will return in 2025.

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The Premier League has been televised in the US since the league was officially launched in 1992. The now-defunct Prime Network was one of the first media companies to purchase rights in the market and subsequently showcase overseas soccer league matches.

Since 2013, NBC Sports has been the domestic rights holder and has seen the Premier League’s popularity go from strength to strength as American fans tune in to watch their favorite teams, often very early in the morning.

GlobalData reports that the league had 94 individual media rights agreements in place last season to allow the planet’s most popular soccer competition to be shown across all parts of the world. NBCUniversal’s current agreement with the Premier League is a six-year partnership, worth $448.57 million annually. Announced on 18 November 2021, it covers the 2022-23 to 2027-28 period.

The lucrative agreement covers all 380 games per season (presented in English and Spanish language versions), with matches being shown across NBC’s main linear channels, its NBC Sports arm, and Peacock, the broadcaster’s streaming platform which requires an additional subscription.

One of many United States viewership records that were broken during the 2023-24 season was for the Manchester City v Arsenal game on March 31, which became the most-watched Premier League match in United States history, attracting 2.12 million viewers across NBC’s platforms.

Furthermore, five of the six most-viewed Premier League matches in US history aired across the same season. An average of 546,000 viewers on NBC and USA Network (including Peacock streaming) watched individual Premier League matches, another record-breaking statistic.

This passed the previous milestone of 541,000 viewers set during the 2015-16 season. In total, there was a 4% increase in average match viewership compared to the previous year.

With the Premier League becoming progressively more involved with the US sports market, English soccer fans will be concerned at the prospect of the league further expanding its relationship with American fans by playing competitive matches in the country, a potential move that has been heavily criticized by domestic English fans.

Only recently, Liverpool FC chairman and American Tom Werner spoke of his aspirations for the league to host games abroad, stating: “I’m determined one day to have a Premier League game be played in New York City.

“I even have the crazy idea that there would be a day where we play one game in Tokyo, one game a few hours later in LA, one game a few hours later in Rio, one game a few hours later in Riyadh and make it a day where the Premier League is celebrated.”

Werner’s ambitions were met with considerable criticism from the Liverpool supporters’ group, Spirit of Shankly, who responded to the idea by stating: “Anyone determined to play competitive LFC Premier League matches abroad should remember that we as fans are determined they don’t.

“There are lots of things that need to change in football – ticket prices, an independent regulator, financial fairness, and more. Where we play doesn’t!”

Many of the big decision-makers at Premier League clubs are highly likely to support Werner’s ambitions as they strive to generate additional income.

For over a decade, the Premier League has ditched the prospect of any league games being played abroad. However, with Werner’s recent comments and the news of FIFA beginning the process of establishing a committee to look at the impact of competitive domestic matches being played overseas, fans will be worried that the Premier League will yield to the heavy influence of the 10 American ownership groups looking to take the competition to their home market.

One of the biggest concerns with regular season games being played abroad would be the sacrifice of the competitive integrity of the competition, as not every team in the league would play every other team home and away, gaining the accepted advantage when playing home matches of their fans outnumbering away supporters cheering on the opposition.

One day, it is likely that the Premier League will stretch its wings to take competitive top-flight games abroad despite the backlash this will most certainly face domestically from supporters.

Decision makers for top-level sports properties especially the English Premier League will continue to seek new methods of generating commercial opportunities to grow the league.

Playing Premier League games in markets such as the US and the Middle East would indeed attract significant investment and additional income. European Leagues including Serie A and LaLiga have made clear their ambitions to play competitive league matches overseas.

If this is successful for those rival leagues, it may provide the opening the Premier League is looking for to take its competition overseas.