Being an American fan of the English Premier League can sometimes be a lonely existence, relegated to just watching matches on television.
But If the Premier League’s U.S. soccer fans can’t get to Britain, then NBC Sports is looking to bring a bit of the British-style gameday experience to them.
NBC and the Premier League are teaming up to stage a “Premier League Mornings Live” fan fest at Miami’s Clevelander Hotel from Dec. 14-15. It will be the sixth fan fest overall that the network and the league have hosted, and the second this year. The first took place in Austin, Texas, in late October.
The two-day Miami event will feature televised action from five Premier League matches, starting with Liverpool vs. Watford on Saturday, Dec. 14 and culminating with Arsenal vs. Manchester City on Sunday, Dec. 15.
NBC’s Premier League announcer team of Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Kyle Martino, and Robbie Mustoe will broadcast live from the fan event all weekend.
There will be special guests like soccer fan Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, who’ll appear on “The 2 Robbies” podcast, with Earle and Mustoe.
Soccer fans will also get to meet former players such as Jay DeMerit and Nigel Reo-Coker and pose for pictures with team mascots and the Premier League trophy.
Despite matches starting at 6:30 a.m local time, NBC’s October event in Austin drew over 8,000 fans. While the network doesn’t like to predict attendance, NBC expects a similar size crowd to descend on Miami’s trendy South Beach once things get underway Saturday at 7 a.m. E.T.
These NBC-Premier League fan fests are pure event marketing. The strategy? “Create a new American tradition to celebrate the Premier League stateside,” said Dan Palla, NBC’s director of consumer engagement.
American fans of the Premier League can’t attend live matches unless they hop on a plane. Holding live fan fests like this in the U.S. enables the Premier League’s American supporters to see, feel, and touch the property without flying across the pond. They’ve responded with a British-style enthusiasm, said Palla. Some fans have traveled to all six NBC fan fests, the way NFL fans journey to the Super Bowl every year.
“It’s a property where, geographically, we don’t get to have a game-day experience. You don’t get to see and touch talent you watch every single weekend. It’s almost turned into Comic-Con,” Palla said. “Our U.K. partners have been in awe at how the fans, of all different loyalties, have come together to embrace the fact that the Premier League has come to their market and put them on display. It’s been fantastic to work on.”
NBC started these fan fests back in November 2017. Seeing the reaction by American supporters, the Premier League and sponsor Barclays quickly became involved. Last year, NBC staged fan fests in Boston, Washington D.C., and New York, with the Boston event drawing north of 12,000 fans.
NBC’s live event strategy is helping bolster TV numbers too. The Peacock network’s telecast of Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Tottenham on Oct. 27 ranked as the third most-watched Premier League match ever on a Sunday, averaging a total audience delivery of 961,000 viewers.
Sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman sees the strategy as a “spot-on” way for NBC to promote its Premier League partnership while also “rewarding” U.S. fans who can’t attend Premier League matches in person.
“It promotes the game, the league, the network and the stars in a fan-fest-meets-tailgate-meets-sports bar extravaganza that should bring huge buzz to the beach and beyond,” said the creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. “A very smart move by NBC Sports and one that I’m sure will continue in other football-friendly locations.”
NBC doesn’t take a cookie-cutter approach to these events, said Palla. Each one is different than the rest.
But the overall business objective is the same. Reward “authentic American fans” who’ve previously had to limit their Premier League team rooting to a favorite bar.
“You’re talking about tens of thousands of people coming to a city – while the game is played in England – to watch a (T.V.) screen,” he said. “The chemistry and atmosphere are unique. And it’s uniquely American. That’s what the most satisfying part of this is. From the Premier League side, from the club side and the NBC side, it’s a sign we are doing things the right way.”