Bundesliga growing into global spotlight

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Known for decades as one of the better football leagues in the world, the Bundesliga still lacked the allure of the Premier League or Primera División, but that is no longer the case.

Leave it to the Germans to be quietly effective and shine when the final score is tallied. According to a recent study, the Bundesliga boasts the best attendance in global football, with its average of 42,600 fans in seats coming in second only to American NFL among all sports leagues in 2013. That’s nearly 6,000 visitors more than at matches of the Premier League, even if the more glamorous British competition totaled slightly more visitors due to longer season that includes 72 additional games. However, a bigger surprise might be that a large chunk of visitors in German stadiums are coming from outside the home nation as the Bundesliga keeps raising its global profile.

Boom of foreign fans in German stadiums

Top German clubs are increasingly growing their brands on the international level. Of course, Bayern Munich is a historic global football icon with a loyal army of supporters spread all around the world, but its rivals are gaining ground in this race as well. For example, Borussia Dortmund welcomes around 800-1000 die-hard fans from Great Britain for every home game. While part of the reason for the mass-migration could be great atmosphere at the legendary Westfalenstadion (currently named Signal Iduna grounds) in Dortmund, economy might play an important role as well. Season tickets for Borussia Dortmund matches can be acquired for just 160 pounds, compared to 985 pounds necessary to watch Arsenal London all season long from the cheapest seats.

But why are the tickets this cheap? Borussia Dortmund’s marketing manager Carsten Cramer explains: “Football is part of people’s lives and we want to open the doors for all of society. We need the people, they spend their hearts, their emotions with us. They are the club’s most important asset.”

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen players were given rock star treatment during their visit to South Korea this summer, with hordes of fans waiting for their arrival at the airport. The presence of Korean national team member Heung-Min Son on Leverkusen’s roster certainly contributed to the excitement, but the rest of the players were targeted for photos by the fans just as much. Of course, teams are conscious of the amazing potentials of Asian markets and the friendly match that Bayer played against FC Seoul probably turned a solid portion of the 50.000 visiting fans into brand new Bundesliga followers.

Increased revenue from broadcasting

In addition to cheaper tickets and the purchase of international players, the success of German clubs in the Champions League and the 2014 World Cup triumph by the ‘Mannschaft’ continue to fuel the popularity of the Bundesliga abroad. People across the globe are increasingly interested in the teams battling for the crown of the Bundeliga and TV channels are paying nowadays premium prices for broadcasting the games to local TV audiences. The resulting additional revenue can be then used to improve once more the product without raising ticket prices. This formula has worked so far and smart teams will continue to use it to ensure high level of support from domestic and international fans.

Did you know? Borussia Dortmund received more than 500,000 applications for season tickets after reaching the final match of the 2013 Champions League, despite the fact that entire city has a population of just over 580,000.

References: Telegraph, Daily Mail, BBC, Bundesliga, DW, Sport1

Picture: Gentside

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