The National Football League earned $18 billion in revenue in 2022 and league officials have their eyes set on $20 million in the near future. With NFL salaries, media rights deals and revenue at all-time highs, owners could now be looking toward expansion to generate even more money.
After becoming the most popular sport in the United States, the NFL set its focus on expanding its reach overseas. The NFL International Series began in 2007 with a Miami Dolphins vs New York Giants game at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Now, there are five international games on the 2023 schedule with London, Mexico and Germany serving as host sites in recent years.
It’s all a part of the league’s vision for increasing revenue and becoming an even bigger brand globally. However, many league insiders have downplayed the possibility of expansion to include international teams.
While some reporters believe the introduction of international teams in the coming years is doubtful, there already appears to be some support for it among owners.
An NFL owned told A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports that while there is no timetable for when it will happen, there will eventually be an expansion to international divisions.
“We don’t know if it’s going to happen in two years, five years, or whenever, but there’s going to be an international division.”Anonymous NFL owner on expanding to include international teams
As detailed by FOS, there are plenty of financial motivations fueling this desire from the league. If NFL expansion happens, the league could charge expansion fees worth around $3 to $5 billion. It would be distributed among all 32 teams, meaning each club gets almost $400 million annually if the league expands by four teams.
The complexities of expanding internationally mean nothing will happen in the immediate future. However, adding four NFL teams overseas would reduce some of the concerns players had with the toll constant international flights would have on them.
Introducing four expansion franchises in Europe and putting them in a division would allow for more flexible scheduling arrangements. Those four NFL teams could have specific stretches of games played internationally followed by matchups in the United States. It would reduce the potential travel of simply putting one team in Europe that must fly back and forth every few weeks.
While having international teams likely isn’t appealing to the NFL Players Association for a variety of reasons, it would generate billions of dollars in additional revenue for the league in the years to follow. For one of the most popular businesses in the country, the opportunity to increase profits is what will dictate a lot of decisions.