Brits Watch ‘Ted Lasso’ Less Than Americans Watch Soccer
American Ted Lasso fans with limited knowledge of British soccer are sometimes surprised to learn that the team featured in the Apple TV+ series, AFC Richmond, is fictional — just like U.K. Ted Lasso fans.
Jason Sudeikis’ heartwarming sports comedy is set to premiere its third and final season next Wednesday as the Apple TV+ series begins saying its goodbyes to the fans who fell in love with its uncynical emphasis on empathy and understanding. Ted Lasso is one of American television’s greatest critical and commercial darlings, with 11 Emmy Awards over just two seasons and millions of fans across the 50 states.
But despite its popularity in the Land of the Free, our former lords are less enamored with Apple TV+’s flagship product, and it’s all because of one simple problem — Apple TV+.
According to the U.K.’s Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, only 8.7 percent of homes in the U.K. have Apple’s premium streaming service — though the U.S. does not have similar publicly available statistics on streaming services, entertainment industry analysis firm Parrot Analytics tells us that Ted Lasso is in the 97.7th percentile of all television shows in terms of demand, and it is in the 99.8th percentile for comedy shows. In the U.K., Ted Lasso doesn’t even crack the top 50 shows in the country.
Comparing American and U.K. viewership statistics may be more clunky and complicated than converting measurements from imperial to metric, but the trend is clear — despite filming in the U.K. and focusing on the country’s most beloved sports league, Ted Lasso isn’t nearly the sensation in the U.K. as it is in America, nor is Apple TV+ itself.
SFGATE spoke to leaders and community members in Richmond Upon Thames, London, where Ted Lasso is both set and filmed, and the interviewees pointed to the show’s platform as the reason it hasn’t quite caught on with the locals. “You know Netflix is all over the place, possibly Amazon Prime, the BBC and the iPlayer and all of that, but the take of Apple TV is quite low,” explained town council head Gareth Roberts. “That’s why it’s possibly not made as much of an impact here.”
“I don’t think it’s because it’s an American show. I think it’s because it’s on the Apple platform, and not many people have it,” Roberts said, before surprisingly adding, “The U.K. absolutely laps up a good American comedy.” And here we thought the transatlantic comedy pipeline only ran from East to West.
Per ShareAmerica, the U.S. Bureau of International Information Programs’ social sharing platform, soccer is currently the fourth most popular sport in America behind (real) football, basketball and baseball. A 2019 Gallup poll reported that 31 percent of Americans consider themselves fans of professional soccer — even if only half of them watch it on TV, that means that a larger percentage of Americans watch soccer than Brits even have Apple TV+ subscriptions.
The popularity of Ted Lasso in America isn’t simply coinciding with the rise of American soccer fans — Apple TV+ cleary latched onto a growing trend with a serendipitously splendid series that offers soccer fans and soccer ignorers alike some relief from the disenchantment and callousness of our modern media landscape. U.K. viewers, on the other hand, can’t be bothered to buy yet another subscription streaming service regardless of which quaint little London town gets featured in its flagship show.
Maybe if Apple branded its streaming platform with a more U.K.-oriented name it would help it take off across the pond — Apple Telly Proper might perk up some English ears.