The NFL's Future In The U.K.

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The NFL is playing three of its games in London this year and has plans for three more next year. There is even talk of placing a team in London. So what is the league's future in a country where the word football is reserved for what Americans call soccer?

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson asked the man in charge of the NFL's office in the United Kingdom — Alistair Kirkwood, the head of NFL UK. He said, "the great thing about our sport and the fans over here is that they actually want the authentic experience."

Kirkwood said that the NFL fan base in the U.K. is mostly British. “It’s 90 percent Brits, of which around 75 percent travel more than two hours to the game. The remaining 10 percent is split almost evenly Americans and American ex-pats and people from mainland Europe.” he said.

Kirkwood noted how the U.K. is a crucial market for American football. “The U.K. itself, it’s the second-largest sports rights market after the U.S., therefore it’s an incredibly important market. You have owners who have business interests in the U.K. so they understand it.”

He said that while a team in London is possible, it may be a long time until one is fully established. “Momentum on the field is probably one of the key components to being successful. We’ve got momentum off the field. If it’s going to be a franchise or something like that, that’s going to be for the ownership to decide and I’d think we’d have to be a lot bigger in terms of popularity to be sustainable,” said Kirkwood.


  • Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK in London.

This segment aired on November 3, 2014.


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