NFL Seeking Further Global Expansion
London’s love affair with the NFL has been growing stronger, and now the league’s top brass are seeking to expand the football audience into previously unchartered territory.
Anyone walking the streets of London last weekend won’t have failed to notice that the NFL was in town. Flags lined the streets, fan parks took over public spaces at famous tourist centres like Piccadilly Circus, and everywhere you looked there were fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills getting ready to watch their teams do battle at the world famous Wembley Stadium.
The game was not only played in front of a sell-out 84,000 crowd, it was also something of a classic contest. Despite the two teams enduring tough times of late, they treated the British NFL fans to some exhibition football and a dramatic contest that was as unpredictable as it was enjoyable.
The Jags emerged victorious in the end, 34-31, courtesy of Blake Bortles’ touchdown pass to Allen Hurns with just 2:16 remaining. The spectators, who had descended upon London from all over the British Isles and also from Europe, left the stadium having been thoroughly entertained.
The sport has been popular in the UK for a long time, but the difference between the following it has now and the following it had in the 1980s and 1990s is that the novelty factor has worn off. The game now has a true legacy and heritage in the United Kingdom.
Between 1986 and 2005, fans in the UK were limited to one live pre-season fixture every year, and this helped to introduce the sport to British people. But now, with the International Series offering regular action on the doorstep for Londoners, there is an opportunity for fans to develop a connection with particular teams, and to follow them as they would their British soccer or rugby sides.
British sports culture is being reshaped by the NFL’s popularity, and the unique spectacle that the International Series brings to town is forcing the likes of the British Premier League to raise their game in terms of the value for money it can offer matchday spectators.
Sports betting providers are also reaping the benefits, as the UK’s legions of gambling enthusiasts flock to the bookmakers, while back in the USA it can also prove popular. Competition among bookmakers is therefore fierce and means there are plenty of great incentives, such as a 100% sign-up bonus at Iron Bet, among the vast numbers of providers.
Naturally, such success in exporting the unique NFL product breeds the desire for more. NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller has his sights set on Mexico, Canada and China as he seeks to add to the already staggering $12 billion that the league generates in revenues every year.
Waller described those countries as “our next stage”, given that the NFL already has offices in all three, and he also highlighted Brazil and Germany as “the next two frontier markets”.
There is talk of the Pro Bowl in February 2017 being moved to Brazil to give the fifth most populous nation on Earth the chance to witness the NFL action first hand. After two successful seasons of hosting two games in London, there are plans to double that in 2016.
With Waller at the helm, it seems no bridge is too far for the NFL. As the fans in London will testify, it is a truly powerful product.