Posted on: May 24, 2023, 08:05h.
Last updated on: May 24, 2023, 08:05h.
The NFL continues to look for new ways to extend its reach around the world, with its Global Markets Program playing a significant role. It expanded the field this month in a move that should also gradually lead to an increase in sports betting activity on league games.
New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Trevor Penning takes the field. The Saints have been given marketing rights in France to expand the NFL’s international footprint. (Image: University of Northern Iowa)
The NFL’s Global Markets Program will expand with the participation of new clubs and markets following a meeting of the International Committee during the 2023 Spring Meeting held in Minneapolis. This is the second year the program has been available, and it appears to be a success with league teams.
The upcoming year’s program, previously called the Home Marketing Areas program, will feature 21 clubs targeting 14 international markets. This is a notable increase from last year’s 19 clubs from 10 markets, according to a league statement.
The aim of this initiative is to help NFL teams expand their brand globally and increase their fan base through international marketing and engagement. The program offers access to international markets as part of a larger, long-term strategy to enhance the NFL’s global presence and reach beyond the confines of the US.
American Football Goes International
American football is the go-to sport in the US, but is second to soccer in virtually all international markets. Leagues exist globally to expand football’s reach, but gaining ground has been a challenge.
The NFL has held international games in places like Mexico, England and Germany in an attempt to increase its popularity. However, the effort has limitations, as holding just one or two games in a season isn’t enough to capture long-term interest.
The Global Markets Program is supposed to help the league with its expansion efforts. Teams apply to the NFL’s International Committee for the rights to market themselves in certain regions each spring and, if approved, are given rights for a five-year period.
Perhaps after seeing the program advancing successfully last year, several new teams have decided to get on board. When the International Committee met this week, it approved several team applications.
Not surprisingly, the New Orleans Saints have decided to target France. Given the city’s history and link to the country, this could be a solid partnership. Saints owner Gayle Benson highlighted the “unique cultural connection” the two share, adding that this is a great opportunity for the team, which didn’t participate in the program last year, and the league.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will add the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to Mexico, where they already held rights. In addition, the Jacksonville Jaguars, which have been a regular fixture in games played in the UK where it holds rights, added the Republic of Ireland.
Germany is still the top European market. It’s already home to the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all of which recently added Austria and Switzerland. They will now be joined in Germany by the Atlanta Falcons.
Changing The Game
Soccer and cricket are the most popular global sports, making them highly popular among sports bettors, as well. However, statistically speaking, soccer is at the top, followed closely by American football.
Some studies put the soccer betting handle at around $160 billion a year, while football betting comes in at around $120 billion. Although the NFL’s Global Markets Program isn’t designed to increase betting, it’s a natural consequence of increased marketing.
We know that global fandom is accelerated through direct engagement with our clubs and players, and we are excited to see the continued impact of this program to reach and engage more fans and grow our sport at every level globally,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s EVP of Club Business, International & League Events.
In many countries in Europe, sportsbooks post football lines but know that they’re not going to get a lot of interest. However, it’s virtually impossible to find them running football-based promotions.
Bettors need to understand the sport before they can wager, and the increased fan engagement the Global Markets Program offers provides more exposure. This will lead to a better understanding of the game and, in turn, more betting.