The National Football League is by far the most popular sport in the United States with television ratings and annual revenue that blow past the NBA, NHL and MLB. As the NFL increases the size of its audience every year, though, it seems there are limits to what the league wants.
Germany hosted its first NFL game in Week 10, with millions of people requesting tickets and a massive crowd in attendance to watch the Seattle Seahawks vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Munich. It’s all part of further expansion for the NFL International Series, with team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell recognizing the opportunities to grow the sport globally.
The interest is driven by financial opportunities. In 2021, the league generated $11 billion in national revenue alone and it’s estimated it eclipsed $17 billion in total revenue this past season.
Expanding the international fan base will only multiple profits for owners, driving up salaries for the highest paid NFL players and pushing the league closer towards its goal of $25 billion in annual revenue. However, there seem to be some limitations on how far the league will go.
According to Peter King of NBC Sports, the NFL doesn’t want to expand from 32 teams. Even at a time when Goodell has talked about the possibility of franchises playing in London, adding more teams is evidently not something league officials are seriously interested in right now.
It shouldn’t come as a major surprise, especially considering the logistics of a team playing in Europe. It would be an undesirable spot for many free agents and their families, causing further problems for any potential franchise that would already be at a disadvantage.
Instead, the NFL International Series will keep growing. Mexico, Germany and London are all hosting games in 2022 and other countries will be added to the rotation in the years ahead.
Are any NFL teams relocating?
With expansion off the table, the next hope for Europe would be NFL relocation. Many believed the Jacksonville Jaguars would eventually wind up playing in London, but it appears neither the Jaguars nor any franchise will be relocating.
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Peter King also wrote that there isn’t a single team that could be considered anywhere close to relocation. Jacksonville is working on a new practice facility for the Jaguars. Meanwhile, construction on a new Buffalo Bills stadium is underway, the Tennessee Titans have a $2 billion stadium project in development and the Los Angeles Chargers are staying in California.
While a team owner could always threaten relocation if the host city doesn’t fund construction for a new stadium, there is no current situation where that could possibly arise. All 32 franchises are in stable positions, either locked in with a new state-of-the-art facility or committed to the city where the team was founded.
As a result, NFL fans outside the United States will have to just hope their favorite team lands on the international schedule in the years ahead.