How NFL International Games Are Continually Growing the Brand

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The NFL international games have helped grow the league and its brand for some time, with its reach now hitting unprecedented levels. 

Extending the hosting of NFL regular season games to multiple countries across the world, the pinnacle of football is now being watched by more fans than ever before. 

NFL International Games in London

The league is ever-growing with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continuing to expand the brand further. More and more games will be played outside of the United States in the coming years. 

What does this mean for the NFL? How are the NFL international games continually growing the brand? How is betting on the NFL affected? What will the impacts be in years to come? I will be answering those questions below!

What Are NFL International Games? 

NFL international games are regular season games played outside of the United States. The aim is to grow the NFL brand across the world, and games have been held across multiple different countries over the past few years. 

Back in October 2005, the NFL saw its first regular season game played outside of the United States. However, the NFL international games first started in 2007 as the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants met at Wembley Stadium, London, England. 

Stadiums across London have been the primary home for international games. Wembley Stadium has hosted the majority of games, but Twickenham Stadium and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium have also held NFL regular season games. 

What other locations have been used?

Mexico has also hosted games since 2016, whilst Germany has held two matches in its history – one in 2022 and one in 2023. 

In 2022, the NFL staged its first game in Germany as the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clashed at Allianz Arena, Munich. In 2023, they played in a new city when the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins played at Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt. 

Coming up in 2024, the NFL will be heading to Brazil for the first time in its history. The Philadelphia Eagles will be heading to Arena Corinthians, São Paulo. In 2025, there will also be a game held at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain. 

Why Is The NFL Going Abroad? 

Quite simply, by playing matches outside of the United States, it allows the NFL brand to grow. By spreading popularity and awareness of the league, the more fans it can garner. This will then result in increased revenues through ticket sales, merchandise and sales of services. 

That also means that more and more people will be betting on the NFL due to the increased reach. Betting on the international games has some different aspects to consider as well. For example, there are some issues with travel and time zones, but those have been limited in recent years and sportsbooks rarely consider travel when compiling their odds for recent NFL international games. Performances post-international games haven’t been hindered much either.

By increasing the widespread appeal for the NFL through its international games, it will continue to grow the audience of football. In the long-term it can help inspire more people to play football, allowing more and more talent to enter the league overseas. 

For example, the NFL already has an initiative called The International Player Pathway Program (IPPP). The aim of this is to increase the number of players in the league from outside the United States and Canada. A total of 35 players have featured in the NFL through the IPPP and eight players participated in the league in 2023 alone. 

With the NFL becoming more and more popular outside of the US, it can also help the rest of the world be immersed within American culture. 

Which Teams Have Affiliations Outside Of The US?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has openly spoken about the positive impact that NFL international games have. He has helped develop a ton of different affiliations and markets across countries such as England, Germany, Mexico, Brazil and Spain thus far, and the expansion is only getting bigger. 

The Dolphins are currently linked to Spain and Brazil, whilst the Chicago Bears have gained rights to market in Spain. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been known as the London team for a while now, and they became the first team in NFL history to play back-to-back regular season games overseas last October. 

The Green Bay Packers became the final team to play a game in the UK when they lost to the Giants in October 2022. That meant all 32 teams across the league had then played at least one game outside of the United States. 

Travel to Europe for teams from the East Coast is almost the same as if they were to head to the West Coast. Therefore, travel requirements are not a major issue, whilst problems with time zones are limited. 

For the most part, the feedback from teams playing in NFL international games has been incredibly positive. It’s not just the league that wants to grow, but each franchise wants to help improve its reach and widen its brand, facilitating the global growth of football. 

The Impact Of Digital Media

Through the internet and a host of different streaming services on offer, the reach of the NFL has exponentially grown. That is because fans from across the globe can gain access to games and content. 

NFL Game Pass allows international viewers the chance to watch every play from every game. Fans also have access to highlights, flashback content and much, much more. This sort of access has led to an increase in popularity amongst European bettors. This then helps drive the fan investment within the sport, allowing their relationship with a particular player or team to grow deeper.

Betting can be a great method to drive demand for the NFL. Even if a gambler isn’t particularly in love with the sport itself, they still enjoy wagering on the sport. Either way, this is great news for the NFL. It means that more people are taking an interest in the information and data surrounding it, resulting in more attention on the league. Digital media such as via social media or Game Pass allows this process to become even easier.

DAZN is the current rights holder of Game Pass which allows users to watch all games throughout the regular season. They also offer offseason packages so viewers can stay up to date with all of the developments. That includes access to the combine, the draft and NFL network. 

Coupled with the NFL international games, the upside for growth across the world has a very high ceiling. Clearly, it’s working, as the league continues to further increase the number of games and digital media outside of North America. 

NFL Game Pass

NFL International Games: The Future

NFL international games will continue to grow in the next 5-10 years. More and more games are being played outside of the US, with an ever-growing list of new countries hosting games too. 

This will continue to help grow the league and its brand, allowing the sport to become global. As a result, the league and each franchise will see increased revenue streams, in turn, allowing them to invest more into facilities back home. 

In terms of betting, the more eyes on the sport will see an increase in the amount of bets on football and the NFL. The more direct link to the game via the international games has further facilitated the demand for NFL betting. Equally, access to 24/7 digital media access to the NFL entices more and more bets placed on the NFL around the world.

Goodell is clearly very happy to continue inputting these international initiatives. He has even spoken about the possibility of a European division, whilst the Jaguars may even relocate to London. 

Is a European Division on the Horizon?

Adding a European division is still far from being a reality. But, the different dynamic that it could bring would add a new layer to the NFL. A consistent form of football in Europe would see the NFL international games reach new heights. There’s a possibility that London could be the home of two franchises, whilst Germany and Spain could be the other two locations. 

However, the logistics behind adding another division to the league would mean that the structuring of the league would have to change. Equally, a new division may not mean that it has new teams, instead, current teams may relocate. 

All of the feedback and information so far has shown how positive playing internationally can be for the league and the sport. Expect this to continue to expand in years to come. Who knows, we may even see a European division within the next 10 years.