In October 2021, hit AppleTV+ comedy series Ted Lasso entered into a licensing agreement with the English Premier League (“the Premier League”), the top level of the English football (or soccer, for those of us in North America) league system. This agreement grants permission to Ted Lasso to include accurate and authentic logos, trophies, and archived league footage as part of its fictional series. The deal, valued at $680,000 USD, represents a win-win scenario for both parties.
For Ted Lasso, acquiring these rights not only allows for an increased level of authenticity to be attributed to its episodes, but opens the door for additional storylines. The show can now leverage the deep history of the Premier League clubs and add more substance to teams opposing AFC Richmond, the show’s fictional team. The inclusion of rights to the accurate Premier League trophy in the agreement suggests that the previously struggling team coached by Lasso (the main character of the series) may be poised for future league success (or have to watch others lift the trophy first).
For the Premier League, the deal represents a truly unique digital marketing effort. Through attempting to capitalize on the show’s popularity in North America, the Premier League sees Ted Lasso as an avenue to reach a broader North American audience and convert viewers of the fictional Premier League portrayed in Ted Lasso into real Premier League viewers.
The timing of the agreement is particularly interesting, as the Premier League’s United States (“US”) broadcast rights are expiring at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 season, in May 2022. While the existing deal with Comcast has been valued at $150 million USD per season, Bloomberg has predicted that a subsequent deal for the Premier League broadcast rights may be valued at $300 million USD per season with a $2 billion USD minimum overall spend.
The growing popularity of soccer in North America, boosted by the recent success of the US men’s and women’s national teams, will undoubtedly create multiple suitors for these rights. Potential suitors may include ESPN, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS and Amazon.
Utilizing the entertainment industry to further increase the Premier League’s popularity is a unique strategy at a pivotal time for the Premier League in the US. It remains to be seen if the licensing agreement will create value for an American audience and/or deliver a more lucrative broadcasting contract for subsequent Premier League seasons.
Written by Vaughan Rawes. Vaughan is a 3L student at Osgoode Hall Law School and ESLA’s Co-President.
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com.
“Comcast Faces 2 Billion US Battle for Premier League Rights”, Bloomberg (14 Sept 2021) online: <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-14/comcast-faces-2-billion-u-s-battle-for-premier-league-rights?srnd=pursuits-vp&sref=fypBllPq>.