In the last few years, the NFL put effort and resources toward building an international brand. As a Raiders fan living in the UK, I’ve seen the rise first hand. With an untapped European market, the league wants those consumers to embrace the game. Over time, the Raiders could benefit from this.
Home Game Attendance: After the owners voted to approve relocation yesterday, you could almost hear pens writing on 2021 calendars. Among all visitors to Las Vegas, UK visitors ranks behind Canada and Mexico. While this may not account for a huge slice of ticket sales, UK fans will make the 10 hour flight at least once a year. More importantly, home games and game days in Vegas will have no short supply of rabid British fans.
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Excitement: The most popular sport in the UK is soccer. Yet, there is a growing frustration from fans that the excitement level among some Brits for the game is not as high as it once was. As a result, the unpredictability of the NFL is what some British fans are warming to. The atmosphere, support, and general attitude at NFL games are so different.
History: During the 1980s, Channel 4 showed American football games. Since then, a slow but sure rise in popularity began. That generation of little kids watched and in some cases, started to play American football. In 1991, the World League of American Football fielded the London Monarchs later the Scotland Claymores. While not NFL caliber, these moves sparked fan interest.
Social Media: UK Raiders fans built quite the foundation online. Despite the eight hour time difference, fans will stay up to watch Raiders football on TV or stream it. As a result, many will live tweet or take to Facebook and Instagram to detail the on-field happenings. During the week, many flock to podcasts or websites in order to learn about their Raiders.
Shad Khan: The Jaguars owner maintains business properties in the UK. Not to mention, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed a deal to play once a year in London. Imagine, the Raiders going on the road without giving up a home game and expanding the fan base. In 2013, the Silver and Black played the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. While not historic, this game was Dennis Allen’s last as head coach. Shad Khan is a powerful NFL owner with international leanings. Few NFL teams travel or exist with the name recognition as the Raiders do. Another way Khan influences this process could be the showing every Raiders game on TV.
My prediction for the future is NFL is only going to get bigger in the U.K. It’s also not long before we see teams being set up here either and a decline in other sports which means good news is hopefully more Raiders fans. In reality, the European market embraces American products often. Why not football? As mentioned with travel to Las Vegas, the Raiders brand will continue to grow.