Football continues to be among the most popular sports in the world. The “beautiful game” as its come to be known, garnered an estimated 3.5 billion viewers during the latest installment of the World Cup in 2018 while viewership for club football is also on the rise.
The Premier League, the world’s most viewed league, along with La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 are among the most popular domestic footballing competitions throughout the globe.
The Premier League has set the gold standard when it comes to television viewers, but is it possible for the other competitions, such as Serie A, to reach the same heights as the UK’s top flight?
Serie A Basics
The crème de la crème and pinnacle of professional football in Italy, Serie A remains one of the most recognisable leagues in the world. Many of the world’s most recognisable clubs and players have honed their trade in Italy.
Clubs such as Juventus, Milan, Inter, Roma, and Napoli along with legends such as Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Gianluigi Buffon, and Francesco Totti have earned Serie A its treasured status in football.
However, despite the gravitas of the players and the clubs, Serie A has yet to gain the same traction internationally as the Premier League and La Liga. Could it be the more tactical style of play? The language? Or could it simply be the lack of current stars? The answer could be the latter.
Cristiano Ronald’s decision to join Juventus has seen the club’s viewership numbers increase to 2 million per match.
Western Europe Football Fans
Many Western European fans tend to gravitate towards the Premier League (England) or La Liga (Spain) as these two leagues tend to feature more international players.
Serie A hasn’t featured the same number of popular French, British, or Spanish players as the Premier League or La Liga. Meanwhile, the quicker, more physical style of play in England and Spain is also a key difference when it comes popularity.
However, Serie A is slowly beginning to strip itself of this stereotype.
Serie A and the United States
There do appear to be fans of Serie A in the most unexpected of places. There is a pocket of fervent supporters in the northeast of America – something you wouldn’t expect from a country that admittedly prefers American football and basketball.
America’s new legalisations on sports betting has also led to a huge interest in European football leagues like the Serie A. As many states have now legalised online sports betting, punters are now placing bets on different sporting events including the world’s popular sport – football.
With football not being one of America’s most popular sports, it seems like gamblers are looking towards the popular European leagues such as the Serie A when placing football bets. Despite the interest in Serie A and sports betting, several Serie A teams are currently owned by Americans;
- AC Milan – Elliot Management Corporation, a US-based investment management firm
- Roma – Dan Friedkin, American billionaire
- Fiorentina – Rocco Commisso, Italian-American billionaire who also owns Mediacom
Popularity of Serie A
The aforementioned Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most popular footballers, gave not only Juventus, but also all of Serie A a boost when he arrived in the summer of 2018. Recent notable additions to the league also include Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Arturo Vidal, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The increase in sponsorship and television revenue that resulted from Ronaldo’s arrival showed that the Serie A may need to increase it’s international star power in order to bridge the gap with other domestic leagues.