NFL in Europe — Scoring Touchdowns on International Turf
- November 13, 2023
- SponsorPulse Staff
With an annual revenue exceeding $20 billion, the National Football League (NFL) is already the behemoth of American sports. However, the league is no stranger to the idea that growth lies beyond domestic borders.
Since 2007, the NFL has been boldly crossing the Atlantic to entertain and engage with European fans to tap new and emerging American football markets and expand its international blueprint.
This season, the NFL announced an impressive lineup of five international games, three in London and two in the football-hungry city of Frankfurt, marking the league's continued push to internationalize its brand.
To understand how top-tier leagues are trying to build global fan bases, we looked at SponsorPulse data to analyze the NFL’s move to Germany and its value. Here’s what we found.
Capitalizing on German Fandom
While seeking new avenues for growth, the NFL set its sights on Germany, where interest in American football has steadily gained momentum.
Despite American football facing stiff competition from Germany's homegrown sports, the NFL has managed to carve out a solid niche in the last few years:
According to Fanatics, Germany is the largest market for NFL-licensed merchandise outside North America.
According to the New York Times, a staggering 3.6 million Germans identify as avid NFL fans, surpassing the number in Britain by as much as 25 percent.
The proof of this burgeoning interest was evident when tickets for the two Frankfurt games this season — namely, Kansas City vs. Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots — sold out within minutes.
After recognizing the potential in the German market, the NFL made strategic moves to capitalize on the surge in interest. In October, the league established an office in Düsseldorf, signaling its commitment to establishing a solid presence and growing its local market.
Additionally, five NFL teams were granted exclusive marketing rights in Germany, underscoring the league's determination to connect with German fans on a deeper level.
Still, the NFL's entrance and growth in Germany have presented some challenges for the brand.
Building in a New Market
As the NFL continues its push into Germany, the football powerhouse has to figure out how to sail a soccer-dominated ocean.
According to SponsorPulse data, the NFL faces an uphill task in penetrating the German market, with an Opportunity Score of 14.
While this places it alongside properties like the NBA, the Tour de France, and the World Darts Championship, it needs to catch up to the opportunity scores of major soccer properties such as the UEFA Europa League, the Champions League, and the World Cup — which score highly in the ranks with opportunity scores of 34, 33, and 37, respectively.
Despite the lower opportunity score, the NFL stands out in engagement and intensity with 29% and 35%, respectively.
The league's high scores in engagement and intensity suggest that it has struck a chord with passionate German fans eager to embrace American football.
A Glimpse into the Future
Even though it still has a long climb to reach the heights of soccer, the NFL stands tall relative to other prominent sports properties, suggesting the brand can transfer some of its awareness and recognition from the US into Europe.
The NFL's foray into Germany signifies a strategic move to capture the hearts of a burgeoning fanbase.
As the league navigates the complex terrain of international sports, the data suggests that while challenges exist, the NFL is making significant strides in building a devoted following in Germany.
An Evolving Game
The world of sports and sponsorships is an ever-changing environment subject to new trends and moves, such as the NFL’s expansion to Europe.
With SponsorPulse, brands can stay ahead by unlocking insights and data around sponsorship opportunities.
For brands eager to explore similar sponsorship opportunities and make informed decisions, SponsorPulse provides a comprehensive platform.
Create a free SponsorPulse account today to discover sponsorship landscapes, analyze market trends, and identify the perfect opportunities for your brand.