London has been a good friend to the NFL, hosting more International Series games than any other country. Although Germany and Mexico are also regular hosts, London is NFL’s most popular holiday home.
This tradition started in 2007 and was revived in 2022 after the pandemic.
American football will be returning to London this autumn – and here’s why…
NFL is Popular in Britain
First, it helps to understand that the NFL is popular in Britain. While Brits generally prefer rugby, there’s a huge audience for America’s biggest league. According to the NFL, British fans number 13 million, with four million of them tuning in for most games.
This can be seen with sports betting, where Brits use NFL odds to speculate on the outcomes of games, or other events like draft picks. British sportsbooks already have 1/3 on the Chiefs taking the first season game in September, or Caleb Williams' 2/7 odds on being first pick in the 2024 draft. If you didn’t know, Britain is home to massive brands like Paddy Power who give odds on the NFL and many other international events.
With this context, the NFL’s longstanding partnership with British sports makes sense. Tens of millions of fans worldwide pay to watch NFL games when they kick off, and the NFL wants to capitalise on that by hosting games in Europe and South America.Tweet
Past NFL London Events
The first NFL game in Britain took place in 2007, where the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10, with the Giants going on to take the 2008 Super Bowl. Occasional games would be played yearly until 2015, with some years like 2012 and 2014 having multiple games abroad. During this period, all games were played at Wembley Stadium.
Seeing interest in Britain for American football, the NFL started making deals with other UK sports institutions. This started in 2015, when the NFL made a ten-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur F.C. As part of this deal, two international games a year were to be hosted at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after the site finished construction in 2019.
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Wembley Stadium is still used for games, partly due to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ owners having an agreement with the English Football Association. As such, the Jaguars have played more games in London than any other team.
Wembley is also the more recognisable venue for American audiences watching abroad, so they’d probably still use it even without this special Jaguar connection. During this time, the NFL struck a deal with the Rugby Football Union too, for games hosted at Twickenham Stadium.
The NFL London Games 2023
For 2023, the NFL has a series of three games in London this Autumn. The first is taking place at Wembley Stadium on 1 October, where the Atlanta Falcons are taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home away from home.
After that, the 8th October will see the Jaguars clashing with the Buffalo Bills at Spurs.
Then, a week later, the Baltimore Ravens face the Tennessee Titans on the 15th October.
This new event comes after a change-up of their international marketing strategy. That is, splitting the teams by region based on reported interest, and giving those teams dibs on games played in those regions.
For the UK, our most loved teams are the Chicago Bears, the Jacksonville Jaguars (obviously), the Miami Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the San Francisco 49ers.
With that plan of action, Brits can expect to see these teams showing up in London a whole lot more.