NFL marketing goes global with Bears, Dolphins, 49ers, Jaguars, Jets and Vikings in the UK, Patriots in Germany and Rams in Australia and China
- 18 NFL teams can expand marketing operations in eight countries from 2022
- An NFL initiative gives teams the rights to host events and further their franchise
- Six teams will increase their marketing – and possibly play games – in the UK
- All 32 NFL teams will play at least a game outside the US in the next eight years
The NFL has handed 18 franchises marketing rights to regions in eight countries from January as the league continues its rapacious expansion across the globe.
The International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA) programme grants teams access to 26 markets outside the United States for ‘fan engagement and commercialisation’ for at least five years.
Six teams – the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers – have got the green light to ramp up marketing in the UK.
Mexico is the largest potential market with nine teams, while Australia (one team), Brazil (one), Canada (two), China (one), Germany (four) and Spain (two) also feature.
The NFL have granted 18 franchises permission to market in eight countries
The 18 teams are free to ‘pursue activities’ consistent with their home market. This includes in-person and digital marketing, corporate sponsorship sales, fan events, youth football activities, merchandise sales and marketing relationships with other sports and entertainment venues in the market.
‘This important initiative enables NFL teams to develop meaningful, direct relationships with NFL fans abroad, driving fan growth and avidity globally,’ said Chris Halpin, NFL executive vice president, chief strategy and growth officer.
The Jaguars have played eight regular season games in London since 2013, with a 4-4 record. Owned by Fulham supremo Shahid Khan – who failed with a £600million bid to buy Wembley in 2018 – they are often touted as a potential London franchise.
‘The Jaguars have experienced first-hand the overwhelming enthusiasm for American football in the United Kingdom,’ Khan gushed in a statement.
Shahid Khan purchased the Jaguars in January 2012, 18 months before he bought Fulham
After buying an initial 18 per cent stake of Leeds United in 2018, 49ers Enterprises increased their minority stake to 44 per cent last month.
While parent company Aser Enterprises owns 56 per cent of the Yorkshire club, it was reported by The Athletic that the investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers are aiming for a full buyout by 2024.
San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido said: ‘The 49ers know there’s never been a better time to invest in the UK.
‘The first-hand perspective we’ve gained from twice playing in London and our ongoing investment in Leeds United provides our organization with a genuine appreciation for the UK.’
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Both the Dolphins and the Jets played – and lost – at Tottenham in October. The Bears and the Vikings have both played two games in the capital.
‘We look forward to solidifying the activation elements and getting back to the UK in 2022 and future years,’ said Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf.
After expanding the regular season from 16 to 17 games in March, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement: ‘One of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.’
The NFL returned to London in October with two games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium following a one-year Covid hiatus.
The magnificent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before the Falcons-Jets game in October
From 2022, at least four regular season games will be played outside of America each season, with two at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mexico, Germany and possibly Canada will also play host.
While the Green Bay Packers are the only NFL side not to have played a game outside the US, that is due to change.
Each team to play at least one overseas home game a season for the next eight years on a rotational basis, with efforts to be made to place teams in their IHMAs where possible.