The American National Football League could play regular season games in Germany and Canada as early as the 2022 season, the league said on Tuesday, after owners of U.S. professional teams voted to expand its rotation of international matches.
The plan is to expand the NFL’s overseas presence beyond the UK and Mexico, as America’s most-watched sport seeks to expand its fan base among a younger and more diverse audience.
He follows the league blockbuster one-year rights package, worth over $ 100 billion, which was inked earlier this month. The deal more than doubled the rights paid by broadcasters and streaming services to the league and its owners.
“We’re empowering clubs to grow their international fan bases,” said Chris Halpin, executive vice president and director of strategy and growth for the NFL. “The teams want to do it, our owners are sophisticated businessmen, with multiple sporting properties” in different markets around the world, such as the Glazer family, which owns both Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Premier League Manchester United.
The new international rotation is expected to start with the 2022 season, if the recovery coronavirus pandemic permits. It will feature four games per season played in an international market, with each of the league’s 32 teams participating at least once every eight years.
Under the current scheduling system, clubs can volunteer to play their ‘home’ matches internationally, as has been the case for the London and Mexico City fixtures.
Some owners, such as Shad Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, have embraced such games, while other clubs have chosen to play overseas in the transition from home stadiums, such as the Las Vegas Raiders.
The league is currently researching potential host sites for the games. The most advanced talks have been in Germany, said Halpin, with potential venues such as the Olympic Stadium in Berlin or the Allianz Arena in Munich.
“It’s a major effort to put on an NFL game, from our safety requirements to our fan experience,” said Halpin. “It stunned Tottenham the first time they hosted one of our games, to see what time our fans show up and eat and drink beer.”
The designation of Canada and Germany as targets for international expansion in the next phase is in part based on the league’s popularity in those regions. These countries currently rank first and second among foreign markets for viewership and fantastic sports activity, Halpin said.
Viewership in Germany of the league’s direct-to-consumer media platform, NFL Game Pass, increased 25% in the past season.
“We want to make sure that the fan base is there, that there are enough existing fans but also a multiplier effect,” he said.
The new resolution came at the league’s ownership meetings this week, where there is also expected to be a discussion of expanding so-called home marketing rights to foreign jurisdictions.
Under the current rules, clubs have the exclusive right to negotiate local sponsorship and other marketing activities in their area. A proposed change, put to the vote of team owners, would allow them to seek approval from the league office to negotiate marketing, sponsorship or fan engagement opportunities in other countries.
“If a team picks a market, say France or Scandinavia, that has a ton of momentum right now, and comes up with a marketing plan there, we can build on what they’re doing and support and connect them. to our media partners. over there, ”Halpin said.