Ted Lasso’s landmark licensing deal with the Premier League means that the show is able to go all-in with AFC Richmond’s possible promotion as they can now use Premier League archive footage, logos, kits and trophy.
It’s not the only major licensing deal for the Emmy award winning show, Nike has been recruited to outfit the fictional club and produce a line of football kits that could make it easier for American fans to source a Richmond kit from some real Premier League teams.
Ted Lasso has been a breakout success for Apple, one of the most popular of their original programmes on its subscription entertainment platform to date. The tie-up between the show and the Premier League further creates points of contact between sport and new fans in the digital media ecosystem.
Ted Lasso is also breaking out of its entertainment box with a crossover with EA sports hugely popular FIFA series. Tedd Lasso’s Twitter account appeared to show Ted lasso actor Jason Sudeikis ensconced in the FIFA team’s facial capture set-up for use in-game and it appears that the 2023 launch of the game will include AFC Richmond and Ted Lasso as a playable team and manager.
The Premier League is now in the market for the renewal of its £150 million a year broadcast rights contract in the US as NBC’s deal is set to expire at the end of the season. Interestingly, the character of Ted Lasso began life in 2013 as a lovable fool figure in promotions for NBC’s US TV coverage of the Premier League, the development into an Emmy awards winning character and show highlights the growing popularity of English football globally and especially among American sports fans.
The potential of crossovers between entertainment and sport are clear and a major battleground between streaming services.
Welcome to Wrexham
If Apple TV has the Emmy award winning Ted Lasso, Disney+ has contributed to the zeitgeist of this moment with a sports documentary of their own. “Welcome to Wrexham” is a new business venture between actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds as they go through the experiences of owning a football club, Wrexham FC.
Welsh football club Wrexham FC play in the fifth tier of professional football, the National League, and undergo the yearly struggle for promotion and profitability. The unique characteristics of English professional football – promotion and relegation – also emphasised by Apple TV’s Ted Lasso are tailor made for drama and a keen plot point in the success of the two series.
If the winning formula of Ted Lasso can be situated in the characters on screen, “Welcome to Wrexham” does an excellent job highlighting the at times symbiotic relationship between a football club and its local city. The show evolves from a vehicle showcasing American ownership of British football clubs, a popular trend in the higher reaches of the Premier League with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, evolving into a touching and inspiring documentary about a city down on its luck and its people needing a lift.
Sport as Docu-tainment
Reaching casual audiences has been on the agenda for sporting teams and organisations for a few years now as within the Premier League, Arsenal have joined their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in opening their club doors to documentary filmmakers from Amazon’s All or Nothing series.
Indeed, it was while watching the original Netflix series, Sunderland Til I Die, and the drama of relegation on full display that Rob McElhenney was inspired to buy a football team in emulation of the Sunderland documentary, investing his money somewhere overlooked and unflashy. Their influence gives the club a significant advantage they would otherwise lack, reaching a greater audience and fan-base for a club on the fringes of the Football League.
The underdog story is alive and well if not applicable to the upper echelons of the Premier League where money and influence have concentrated success into the few clubs that can afford it. The Premier League pyramid is not easily climbed. Yet it is fascinating to watch as the foundational structure of football is mythologised successfully for entertainment purposes.
One can’t help but present in contrast the heavily criticised European Super League (ESL) proposed by UEFA in 2021, whereby 15 teams from the biggest football leagues in Europe would have been permanent members that could not be relegated.
This proposal was resisted by fans of English clubs and football. With the wild success of the aforementioned entertainment shows, it is no wonder that many would like to preserve the structure and system that made club football the global phenomenon it has become.