The Premier League, commonly known as the English Premier League (EPL) especially outside England, is the top of four levels that make up the English professional football system. There are currently 20 teams that feature in the top flight, and each team plays a total of 38 games per season (19 home and 19 away). Unlike American sports, English football is based on a relegation and promotion system.
That means that the three worst-performing teams end up being demoted to the second level – in this case, the English Football League Championship – while the three best-performing teams in the EFL Championship gain promotion to the Premier League every season. By contrast, teams in the major American sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, and MLS) never have to worry about being demoted to a lower tier, no matter how poorly they perform in any given campaign.
The Premier League was founded on February 20, 1992, after clubs in the Football League First Division decided to split from the Football League, which was founded in 1888. The reason for this schism was to take advantage of lucrative TV rights deals that today bring in billions of pounds (or dollars) per annum. Although the first Premier League season had 22 clubs, this was whittled down to 20 teams in 1995 and has stayed at that size since then.
With over two-thirds of the world’s population watching the Premier League over the course of the season either via TV broadcasts or via online live-streaming, the Premier League is arguably the most-watched sports league in the world.
Each season, the Premier League champion is determined by whichever team has accumulated the most points after 38 matches. Three points are given for a win, one point for a draw, and zero for a loss. Should a team be level on points, then there are several tie-breakers used to determine a team’s standing in the table.
The first is “goal difference”, which is the number of goals scored in all league matches minus the number of goals conceded (the number of goals one’s opponent scores against them). The next is the total number of goals scored. If the teams are still level, then the teams are determined to occupy the same spot.
However, if the teams are battling for the championship spot, to determine relegation or qualification for a competition (such as the Champions League or the Europa League), then the two teams involved will have to feature in a play-off at a neutral venue to decide the final rank.
As there are 20 teams in the Premier League, the teams who finish 18th, 19th, and 20th, are relegated to the EFL Championship. The teams who finish 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, get to qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, which is the premier-level cup competition for European teams.
Meanwhile, teams who finish in 5th, 6th, and 7th, qualify for the UEFA Europa League, which is the second-tier cup competition for European teams; however, while the teams who finish in 5th and 6th gain automatic entry to the group stage, the team that finishes in 7th has to earn its spot through a separate tricky play-off competition.
Manchester United is the most decorated side in the current Premier League era in terms of titles won. Other teams that have enjoyed success include Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City. Arguably, the biggest upset in Premier League history to date was during the 2015/2016 season when Leicester City won the title. This was impressive because prior to this, Leicester, nicknamed the Foxes, had only had one four finish back in 1928/1929, when they finished as runners-up in what was then called the First Division.
In the US, fans have a wide range of options to follow their favorite Premier League teams throughout the season, including live TV broadcasts through major networks, on-demand access, and of course, live-streaming for viewers who prefer that on-the-go experience.
Canadian fans also can enjoy live-streaming and live TV broadcasts through their national carriers over the course of the 38-game campaign.
And in the UK, fans have a plethora of choices to follow their favorite sides, with Amazon Video now getting in on the action to provide on-demand coverage starting from the 2019/2020 season.