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SBD Global/October 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Showing Serious Intentions Of Adding London Team In 'Foreseeable Future'

There is still “plenty of skepticism out there over the NFL's ability to put a franchise in London anytime in the foreseeable future,” but the first 10 months of ‘12 “have shown that the league is serious about trying,” according to Albert Breer of NFL.com. The NFL announced earlier this year that two games will be played in London in '13 and adding an extra game would be “an indicator to see if, someday, fans could be counted on to show up eight times every fall.” NFL VP/Int'l Chris Parsons said, "We look at it and say, 'Would the U.K. be able to sustain a team?' For now, it's, 'Let's build the fan base, so we can put ourselves in the top five in this country, so we'll be able to have that conversation.' For us, it's building that fan base, getting it to that size and scale, so if there's a future opportunity, we're ready for it. We're not looking at that as a short-term goal, though." Parsons was able to “cite plenty of progress over the first six years of the Wembley incarnation of the International Series.” The league over that period has “gone from having two sponsor partners across the pond to 12, while regular-season ratings in the U.K are up over 150%.” Also on the rise is “traffic to NFL.com, ‘NFL Game Pass’ (Europe's ‘NFL Sunday Ticket’ equivalent) subscriptions and ‘Madden NFL’ sales.” That growth is why the league has “focused so intently on London and the U.K., rather than branching out to places like Germany.” Parsons: "There's no point in being 15th in 20 different countries. ... We want to get it right here before we go elsewhere" (NFL.com, 10/23).
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