American football’s NFL has committed to staging more games in Germany over the next four years after the league’s inaugural regular season game in the country between the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers proved a huge success last weekend (November 13).
The league announced it will play at least three more regular season games in the country as part of its International Series up until the 2025 season, with Munich to host one more game and Frankfurt to host two games in the coming years.
German soccer champions FC Bayern Munich’s home stadium Allianz Arena will host the extra Munich game after successfully staging Sunday's match. Frankfurt Stadium, home of Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt, is set to host the other two.
A sell-out crowd of 69,811 watched the Buccaneers beat the Seahawks 21-16 at the Allianz.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: "Munich will forever be a part of NFL history, in what was a significant milestone in the continued growth of the League globally and for our fans in Germany.
"Our first international regular season game in Germany comes after many years of planning and was a tremendous success. Being in Allianz Arena on game day was a special moment that we will never forget.
"We are grateful to the city and to our German fans, who were extremely passionate and respectful, and welcomed the NFL with open arms. We look forward to returning to Germany in 2023 and bringing the NFL to more fans in the future."
The NFL staged games in Germany for five consecutive years from 1990 to 1994 but has been on a hiatus in the country until this year’s International Series game in Munich.
Such was the interest in attending, the league said it received three million ticket requests after an instant sell-out earlier this year.
German broadcaster ProSieben generated a record 2.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched NFL regular season game ever in the country, behind only the last three Super Bowls as the most-watched game ever. DAZN Germany, meanwhile, said the game was the second most-watched NFL broadcast on their streaming platform after the Super Bowl.
Fanatics, the NFL’s official e-commerce partner and exclusive event retail operator in Europe, said game-day merchandise sales at Allianz Arena broke records for an NFL game outside the US.
The NFL said its German social media channels during the week leading up to the game generated 20 million video views, up 360% compared to an average week, as well as 3.4 million fan interactions, which represents a 717% rise compared to an average week.
The channels also gained 30,000 followers.
In the US, the game was the most-watched international game on record on the NFL Network, attracting 5.8 million viewers across TV and digital. The figure beat the previous record by 5% made during the league’s London game between New York Giants and Green Bay Packers earlier this year.
The match was the penultimate game of the NFL’s five-game International Series this year, the last of which will be held in Mexico City on Monday (November 21) when the Arizona Cardinals face the San Francisco 48ers.
Beyond Germany, the NFL is reportedly looking to expand its International Series after the league’s analysis potential identified Spain and France as potential growth markets.
Brett Gosper, the NFL’s head of UK and Europe, told The Associated Press both countries were “very much on our radar,” adding: “We need to do our homework to make sure that there is the possibility of a place to land any games in those markets, gauge interest of the host stadia, gauge interest of the host city, even the government, as to their enthusiasm to help us bring a game.”
Spain is the frontrunner for potential games as the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins have ‘home market’ rights in the country as part of the league’s international expansion drive while no teams have rights in France.
Addressing the two nations, Gosper said there are “a lot of synergies” with Spain considering NFL’s large Spanish-speaking fanbase. Nine teams have marketing rights in Mexico.
He added: “France is a little bit outside of that and it is its own market and culture. But at the same time, it’s an incredibly strong sports media market where returns could be higher and faster than Spain.”
At the end of last year, the NFL announced it had given 18 of its 32 franchises access to 26 International Marketing Areas (IHMA) across eight countries as part of an initiative designed to give teams a strategic boost in building their brand appeal and fanbase globally.
The eight IHMAs are the UK, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Spain, China, and Australia. Franchises are not limited to just one and indeed in some cases now have access to three.
The move meant that from the beginning of this year, the teams would be able to market their brands, drive fan engagement, and increase their commercial efforts in their allocated territories.
This includes fan events, merchandise sales, co-marketing relationships with other sports and entertainment properties in the same geographical areas, and both in-person and digital marketing efforts. Corporate sponsorship sale is included.
The teams also have rights to play home games in their allocated country, as the Jacksonville Jaguars do in London. The franchise has played nine times in the English capital and there is currently a three-year deal in place to play an annual ‘home’ game at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium.
Gosper added: “When you know that there are teams operating in [the international rights program] you want to look at the prospect and viability of potentially having games in those markets at some point.
“A team might choose to do that. That’s a real possibility but again not imminent.
“Certainly, in the next six months to 12 months, we’ll be really testing the viability of our options from a stadium point of view – not just in Europe but elsewhere – and then, at the same time, seeing what the appetite is for clubs to potentially exploit those markets with a game.”
The complete list of teams and countries assigned home market rights includes:
- UK (six): Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers
- Germany (four): Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Mexico (nine): Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos. Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, and San Francisco 49ers
- Canada (two): Minnesota Vikings, and Seattle Seahawks
- Brazil (one): Miami Dolphins
- Spain (two): Chicago Bears, and Miami Dolphins
- China (one): Los Angeles Rams
- Australia (one): Los Angeles Rams