With the NFL coming to London this weekend, we take a closer look at how NFL is expanding its engagement in the UK and contributing to the London economy.
The International Series, which started in the UK in 2007, had a total audience attendance of more than 250,000 across the three games at Wembley Stadium during the 2014 season.
This season three games will be played at Wembley. The New York Jets will take on Miami Dolphins on October 4th, Jacksonville Jaguars will face Buffalo Bills on October 25th and finally the Detroit Lions will play against Kansas City Chiefs on November 1st.
As we previously mentioned, the International Series has increased interest in the UK, which has a current fan base of 12 million people, a 30% increase from 2012 to 2014.
Since the first NFL game at Wembley in 2007, TV ratings have shown substantial growth in the UK. The Sunday viewership has almost doubled and the Super Bowl audiences have increased by 75%. The growing interest can also be seen in amateur American football in the UK where participation has increased 15% year-on-year since 2007.
In order to engage fans outside of the U.S., the NFL are promoting the games in London in several ways on their official Facebook page. From pictures, news, videos and player interviews, NFL post several times a day to their 12 million followers on Facebook. Unlike Facebook, the NFL has a British Twitter account, where they have 60.3k followers.
— NFL UK (@nfl_uk) October 1, 2015
The growing interest should be welcomed by the NFL. More engaged fans will mean higher revenues and growth opportunities for their brand and with the significant interest, there is huge opportunities for brands and rights holders looking to be involved into an emerging but well established sport.
A study carried out by Deloitte found that the two International Series fixtures played in London in 2013 contributed £32m to the London economy, of which spectators outside of London generated £20m. In 2016, four International Series fixtures could be held in London, which could generate up to £58m, according to Deloitte.
There was a rumour last year that Jacksonville Jaguars would be likely to relocate its franchise to London, but has been ruled out by the NFL until at least 2020. The report forecast that an entire eight-game home season might yield as much as £102m into the London economy.
Dan Jones, head of Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Our analysis demonstrates the impact the NFL International Series has on the London economy. It is a valuable addition to the capital’s calendar of major sporting events. If in future the NFL were to have a London hosted franchise we estimate that could deliver at least £100m of direct economic benefit, as well as further reinforcing London’s status as one of the world’s top cities for sport.”
Glenn Risum is a Sport Management Undergraduate at UCN where he focuses on the intersection of where sport, technology and business collide. He is also a Consultant at Digital Agency, WePlay.