China is the world's biggest Premier League fan
Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 12-10-2011
The English Premier League attracted a TV audience of 4.7bn last season, with China accounting for the lion's share of viewers.
According to the latest report from analyst firm SPORT+MARKT, 70% of all football fans worldwide now watch the Premier League, with 643m homes tuning in to see the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea - an increase of 11% on the previous season.
China has the most Premier League followers of any country at more than 300m, followed by India with 147m. The audience across Africa was 290m.
In total, the Premier League accounted for 185,000 hours of global TV coverage last season, making it far and away the most popular sporting competition in the world.
Andrew Walsh, SPORT+MARKT head of international affairs, said: "The explanation for these remarkable figures lies largely in the redistribution of international rights for the start of the new three-year broadcast term last year.
"One main driver of the rise was the switch of the League's broadcast rights in China from pay TV over to terrestrial coverage. That has burst open the floodgates in terms of the Premier League's popularity in the world's biggest and fastest-growing market."
A Premier League spokesman said: "Our international fan base and success is helping develop English football at all levels, something we should all be pleased about.
"Whether they are at the ground in person or watching all around the world on TV, fans know what they will get from a Premier League game. They'll see some of the world's best talent in thrilling matches played at packed stadiums."