Future of NFL in UK and Europe

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Chris Saunders (Sub-Packages)
Chris Saunders is a lazy writer and when Chris can be bothered he is writing about NFL and occasionally Crystal Palace. Or twitting rubbish @golongfootbawl

Khan is looking to take over Wembley. Khan hasn’t been keen on the Jaguars using any other venue. Where does this leave new White Hart Lane’s 10-year deal if Jaguars move to London? I would like to raise the possibility for expansion division, Jaguars moving to that division and an expansion team taking their place within AFC. New White could be used as a home ground for London’s second team. Then find two other European cities to host NFL teams. Rather than a just one team moving over; I will go through the reasons below.

Proposed structure

I would look to add a European Conference of four teams that would feed into the NFC and AFC. I would change the playoffs so that only number one team in NFC and AFC would get a bye. Creating an extra spot in both conferences. Each season the winner of European division would feed into one conference. Then the other teams in that European division would compete for a wild card in the other conference. Each year this would swap around.

Travel

If this season the Jaguars were to play there home games in London the total mileage for last season would have been 52,046 Miles. Now this includes three sets of back to back road games that I have only used the travel distance from the first game to the second. As I would assume they wouldn’t go back to London after that. In 2017 Raiders traveled 33 thousand miles and Cardinals 30 thousand miles. That makes the Jaguars travel 57% more than the closest team.

This does have an effect on results in 2015 road teams went 8-16 in games where they traveled 2,000 or more miles. This excludes London games due to both teams traveling. But as the Jags will have this advantage for home games and disadvantage for road games.

I took the Jaguars schedule then replaced the milage for away games against Colts, Titans, and Texans with trips to Dublin, London, and Berlin. This would then reduce the mileage down to 32 thousand miles. Take this down to the point that their mileage is lower than Raiders.

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Euro Market Dominated by London

If Jags move to London by themselves this would make it harder for other teams to join them in European markets. As there they will have the chance to claim the majority of the support of new fans that would come to sport. As they would have been there first. This would create a barrier to entry that I don’t the NFL would like as I think there is enough demand that they could have more than one European team.

Ticket Sales

When choosing which city to host the first international series the NFL looked at the tickets price that UK fans for sporting events. Last season the London game accounted for 15% of their local revenue. The three games from 2015 had grossed $32 million in ticket sales. When you compare that to the Jags season revenue for ticket sales in 2016 it was $58 million for eight games. Even for the larger teams like New York Giants, they had $96 million which is $12 million per game. That’s only $2 million more per game more than NFL London games.

Sub-Prime Games

Having the Jags play in London would create a maximum of eight subprime games. This game will kick off UK time of 2:30 pm and in States east coast time of 9:30 am. A new timeslot for games. I believe that the irregular time slot hurts the ratings for these games. As this season it would only happen 3 times in a season. So it’s easy to miss one as a neutral fan as you’re not in the habit of watching a game at that time in the morning. If they had a European division there would be a choice of two games normally and in bye weeks there would be a least one game at that time slot. This would build up an audience of neutral fans that regularly watch these games which would add the supporters of the visiting team. On US television, these UK games are underutilized often only shown online or on NFL network.

Far East Market

By having a game at 1:30 pm UK this is 8:30 pm Sunday in China. Of the association football games played last season two of the top ten rated games were played on Sunday Night China time. This makes the NFL viable sport to watch live in the far east. The premier league rights in Hong Kong have sold for £92 Million per season. As a comparison for the same contract USA has paid £110 Million per season (for a longer deal).

China is a market that the NFL has an eye on. There are rumors that NFL would play a game in China in 2019. There was meant to be preseason game played there in 2007 between the Seahawks and Patriots. But the far east market is not just China. Regular games on at this season time spot will give the NFL chance of growth in this market.

American Press

In general, the NFL press doesn’t like teams relocating. It creates a lot of bad press from the location that is losing their NFL team. But normally the positive press of the place that is gaining a team will make up for that. But image the coverage if the USA lost a team to another continent. There would be three divisional teams that would have to travel to London every season. This would be a huge PR problem.

Conclusion

Due to the ticket sales, new subprime time slot and international growth. I think NFL will want to maximize income by moving a team to London. By doing creating a new division this will minimize the travel issue and maximize subprime time slot. NFL can concentrate on doing what they have done in London to the far east market

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