Team owners approved resolution that allows franchises to play at least one home game per year overseas, if they volunteer to do so.
Great Britain is the market that NFL team owners have chosen to spread the NFL brand worldwide. Founded in the 2005 season with the first regular season game disputed overseas, between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals (14-31) at Mexico City, and became known as the International Series, the United Kingdom came into scene the year after, where one regular season game has been held until then. Now a new resolution has been signed to help expand the program through the 2016 season.
Teams are not forced to do so as it is voluntary, but for those having trouble selling out their home games this option could benefit their pockets considerably, because added to the revenue from the game played in England, the league would also give them financial incentives in compensation for spreading the NFL brand worldwide.
On October 23 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in London. For the fifth consecutive year a regular season game will be held there. Although critics feel that these foreign games are not positive for those working in the home stadiums, as they lose the revenue from that game day, statistic show that the International Series is doing a great job in the UK. The fan base shows an increase of 32 percent in the last two years, for a total of 11 million supporters.
NFL's greatest event, the Super Bowl, is also being benefited with the International Series, experiencing an increase in its audience of 74 percent since 2006. The regular season has even higher numbers with a 91 percent increase.
Since 1986 the NFL has been trying to expand its markets overseas with the introduction of the American Bowl series, which ran until 1997. In that period a total of eight pre-season games involving 13 teams were disputed just in England. Ireland, Japan, Australia, Germany and Spain also had their live game day experience.
With the International Series the NFL is trying to give more intensity to its games, making them more appealing for fans. It not like the pre-season games disputed throughout the American Bowl were not appealing, since they reported sell put crowds of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium on every single game, just that competitiveness had to be increased to give the fans a real day game experience like in the United States.
Like every big business now days you are not truly successful until you go global. Diversifying markets is also imperative to stay afloat in these times of recession were fanbases are waiting to be conquered. Like football other sports have understood this too, and for example in soccer it has become very common in the last decade to see top European clubs conducting their pre-season in Asian and North American grounds. The ATP World Tour and the Formula 1 have also diversified their calendars in an effort to spread their brand, just to name two more scenarios. The globalization of sports is a reality.