NBC’s Premier League Fan Fest in Orlando, Florida was a tremendous success by any measure. This was the eighth one that the broadcaster held in the United States. And judging by the numbers, it may be the best one yet.
In what is now becoming a must-see event on the US soccer calendar each year, the Premier League Fan Fest was unique for a few different reasons.
First, the setting was ideal. The stunning backdrop of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures added to the live footage from the event. There was so much to see in almost every camera shot.
Second, the numbers continue to impress. According to NBC Sports executives we spoke with, twenty thousand people RSVP’d to attend the event (10,000 each day). Importantly, throughout the weekend, there were plenty of areas for fans to spread out, so not everyone was confined to one space. So despite the huge crowds, it didn’t feel claustrophobic at all.
Third, the location of the festival in Universal CityWalk meant that every one of the 30,000 to 40,000 guests entering the two theme parks had to walk past the Fan Fest. As a result, more people stopped in their tracks to watch what was happening, which helped to swell the total number of people the Fan Fest reached.
NBC’s Premier League Fan Fest: A mammoth event
Putting together a Premier League Fan Fest is no easy task. It takes months of planning, and also incorporates many departments from across NBCUniversal as well as the Premier League and its clubs.
“We started talking to [Universal Parks] about a Fan Fest, [with] no dates in mind, in April ,” said Senior Vice President of Consumer Engagement for NBC Sports Lyndsay Signor. “So, April to May was when we got everyone on board as far as hosting a Fan Fest [at Universal Studios].”
One of the unique aspects of the Fan Fest is that it is open to any of the Premier League clubs who want to have visibility at the event.
“The Premier League tells its clubs, ‘If part of your strategy is growing your US fanbase, then this is the perfect opportunity to do so,'” explained Director of Consumer Engagement for NBC Sports Kristin Hurst. “Clubs do different things. Everybody wants to make a mark with that fanbase.”
Some clubs even bring animals on set.
It can get quite competitive between the Premier League clubs to try to outdo each other at the Fan Fest.
“We love that part of it,” added Signor. “The goal would be to have every club represented. Obviously that takes resources from the club, but ultimately the goal is to have everyone here.”
Judging by the number of different jerseys worn by Premier League fans at the event, many of whom flew from across the United States to attend, there were fans from every club in the Premier League. Some fans flew from as far away as Europe to be there.
And there was even a few celebrity sightings too that mixed in with the crowd, including West Ham United supporter (and English film and TV actor) Ray Winstone.
Many of the attendees were there to support their club, but also to see Rebecca Lowe, The 2 Robbies and Tim Howard in person.
Where the next Premier League Fan Fest may be heading
“We keep upping the ante,” Signor said. “We don’t expect each one to get bigger capacity-wise. It really depends on the venue and city. For us, it’s about the best Fan Fest experience whatever venue we’re at.
“A lot of clubs and supporters clubs in cities are constantly pitching us. Atlanta’s fanbase is very bullish. A lot of people want us to go to the Midwest. A lot of people want us to come back.
“Everything is possible. We just have to digest these two [recent fan fests in Philadelphia and Orlando]. But there will definitely be a next one for sure.”
That’s music to the ears of soccer fans across the United States.