Does the NFL play too many games in London? The league doesn’t think so, as four games will be played overseas next season.
In 2007, the Miami Dolphins faced the New York Giants in the first NFL regular-season game in London. Up until 2012, the NFL only played one game in London every season. By 2013, the league moved that up two games. Since 2014, the NFL has played three games in London every season.
Apparently, that’s not enough, whether the fans, players and teams want it or not. But somebody in the league offices likes going to England. Next year, the NFL will play four games in London.
The league made the announcement Friday and said it’s a major milestone towards increasing popularity for the NFL in the United Kingdom and for potentially moving a team there one day.
“We continue to be incredibly excited by the passion and love for the NFL shown by our millions of UK fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the statement. “London is an amazing city. We have had tremendous support from our fans, from Mayor Khan and other government leaders and business partners, and we are looking forward to taking the next step in the UK by playing four games in London next season.”
“London staging a fourth NFL game is fantastic news – not only for the millions of sports fans who get to enjoy our iconic stadiums – but also because it confirms our status as the go-to choice for hosting the world’s biggest sporting events,” Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said.
According to the NFL’s statement, the NFL has seen viewership in London more than double since 2007, while the Super Bowl audience across the pond has increased more than 75 percent. The league has conducted internal research in the UK to determine a fan base of more than 13 million exists for American professional football. During the 2016 season, the NFL set a record for number of unique TV viewers in the UK as well.
Fantastic early Christmas present for @NFL fans in London – we'll be hosting four games next year. #LondonIsOpen #CityofSport https://t.co/U2vcqp7ofd
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) December 9, 2016
“I am really excited to welcome more NFL teams to London next year, as well as thousands of American football fans from around the globe, showing that London is open to the very best sporting events and the world’s greatest athletes,” Mayor Kahn said.
Aside from TV viewership numbers increasing, kids playing amateur football has grown as well, by around 15 percent per year since 2007. The last study conducted determined there are around 40,000 people aged 14 and up playing American football regularly. That is aided by UK universities and schools officially recognizing the sport.
“London is the international home of the NFL and staging the equivalent of what would be half an American football team’s home games in the city is a huge step towards my ambition of bringing a franchise to the capital.
The teams and venues for next season’s four London games will be revealed at Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 8:00 am EST (yes 8 am EST and 5 am PST) on Facebook Live at facebook.com/NFL. On Dec. 15, season ticket renewals will begin for fans looking to buy tickets.
Pro Football Talk says rumors currently have the Jacksonville Jaguars expected to play a “home” game against the Baltimore Ravens in London next year. Another team expected to give up a home game for London is the Los Angeles Rams. So if you’re a fan of one of those teams, or really any NFL team, set your alarm clocks bright and early for Dec. 13. (That’s this coming Tuesday!) Get used to it, since you’ll be watching your team play from London at approximately 8 a.m. on that particular Sunday, depending on your time zone.