American Football and the National Football League is mainly known as American sport, but the National Football League (NFL) is trying to change that perception; and their efforts internationally are reaching an economic boom.
The NFL has been working on this project for a long time. The first international regular season game played in the NFL was in Mexico City, Mexico, on October 2, 2005, between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. The game hosted an NFL record in attendance with 103,467 fans. Now they are looking further.
The most recent country that the NFL is outreaching to is Germany. Last year, the NFL had its first game in Germany between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks. The game was a massive success bringing people together for most of them to see their first NFL game. There were three million ticket requests, with the stadium only holding 75 thousand fans. Tickets on the secondary market were going for prices around 2,500 USD, reflecting the popularity of the event. A survey showed that behind the nation’s most popular sport, soccer, American football was the second biggest sport in Germany. The NFL will be returning in 2023 to Germany, with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots coming to town to play their matchup. There will be five international NFL games played in 2023. This trend seems to be continuing in games hosted in the United Kingdom.
With the NFL expanding internationally, it also causes an economic boom from the games being played overseas. On the report of the head of NFL Europe and the United Kingdom, Brett Gosper, each city will have a turnover of around 40 million dollars from each weekend game played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Allianz Arena, and Wembley. Goseper also said, “Europe is a large market for the NFL in a number of areas and we are growing our fanbase across Europe. It is a growth market and a market with high potential.” Sixty million American viewers are expected to be tuning into the European games.
NFL teams are seeing the revenue benefits from playing overseas. Some NFL teams are making the extra push to gain international fandom. In the summer of 2022, the Chicago Bears held eight football youth clinics in UK cities and countries like Wales and Scotland. This is a brilliant tactic to try to grow a fan base in a different country and get younger international kids interested in football, which could lead to another revenue stream for their team. After the NFL divided up the marketing rights in Britain, a half dozen NFL teams are trying to gain media attention and fans out in the United Kingdom. The NFL is hiring local media personalities and signing commercial deals to help these teams continue to grow their fanbases internationally.
The NFL team with the most significant international following is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The small-market Florida team is called the “top dog” when it comes to fans in the United Kingdom. This all started in 2013 when the team played their first game there and has been able to grow a fan base over there, with the team playing a game there almost every year since 2013. The Jaguars will play against the Denver Broncos on October 30th, their first year of a three-year contract with Wembley stadium in the United Kingdom.
As we follow the story, the international world may be more exposed to the world of American Football, with the NFL continuing to expand and create new markets all across the globe.