Germany and Canada could host NFL games in 2022 season

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The United States National Football League could play regular season games in Germany and Canada as early as the 2022 season, the league announced on Tuesday, after owners of professional U.S. teams voted to expand its rotation to international fixtures. .

The plan is to expand the NFL’s overseas presence beyond the UK and Mexico, as America’s most-watched sport seeks to grow its fan base among a younger and more diverse audience.

It follows the league’s one-year successful rights package, worth more than $ 100 billion, which was signed earlier this month. The deal more than doubled the rights paid by broadcasters and streaming services to the league and its owners.

“We are empowering clubs to build their fan bases internationally,” 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 the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United of the Premier League.

The new international rotation is expected to begin with the 2022 season, if the recovery from the 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 with 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 as they transitioned from home stadiums, such as the Las Raiders. Vegas.

The league is currently looking for potential game hosting sites. The most advanced talks have taken place 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 host an NFL game, from our safety requirements to our fan experience,” said Halpin. “It amazed Tottenham the first time they hosted one of our games, to see how early 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 fantastic sporting audiences and activities, Halpin said.

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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 framework for the new proposal was ratified by the owners, as they also agreed to increase the number of regular-season NFL games from 16 to 17, balancing the potential impact of overseas travel on teams. during the league’s compact fall schedule.

“The extra regular season game allows the NFL to expand its efforts to develop the game globally while maintaining a level of competitive fairness by ensuring that each team plays an international game over time on a rotating base, ”said Clark Hunt, co-owner and chef. executive of the Kansas City Chiefs. “We would be happy to have the chance to be the first team to play a regular season game in a new market.”

The NFL has been hosting an international series since 2007, although it was cut short by the pandemic in 2020. Halpin said the league plans to resume games in London or Mexico City this fall, but “it’s walking before it goes. run out of Covid “.

The new resolution came during league ownership meetings this week, where there is also expected to be a discussion of extending domestic 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 it and them. connect to our media partners there, ”said Halpin.


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