As the premier league in the world, the NFL is always trying to find new ways to push boundaries and become more marketable.
Super Bowl LIV, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 after a frantic second half comeback, pulled in almost 100 million viewers in the United States. However, the league and commissioner Roger Goodell know that the key to expansive growth – and thus more money for the franchises – is to be found overseas.
The NFL has been aggressively pursuing this angle and as the premier league of its kind in exploring international markets, the experiments have been a success. Ever since the league started staging a game in London every year – which quickly became multiple games in London featuring different teams each time – the theory has been that Goodell and the other owners want to see a full time franchise based in the city of around nine million people.
As of the 2020 season, we may just be a little closer to seeing this happen.
The Jacksonville Jaguars – a team long considered likely to be the first franchise moved if such an opportunity became available – will be playing two “home” games at Wembley Stadium in the English capital next season. It is common knowledge that the Jags don’t always draw well and that their games at Wembley actually pull in more than double the money of a game at TIAA Bank Field.
The Jags are feeling extra pressure to increase their share of the league revenue after some of the lower-earning teams in the league have recently relocated. With the Rams, Charges, and Raiders moving to Los Angeles, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas respectively from small-market cities, the league is clearly encouraging teams to look for additional revenue opportunities.
Much of the Jags future in Jacksonville is tied to a $700 million entertainment complex planned to be built around the stadium, but that has yet to receive a green light. That makes this a huge opportunity for London – and the fans in the UK – to prove they can get behind a specific team for a couple of weekends in a row and really show the NFL that relocating an actual franchise would be a great move.
Without knowing it we may be looking at the first step in a new era of international expansion for the premier league in world sport.
Article by Premier Players