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SBD Global/November 8, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies
49ers Co-Chair John York Says NFL London Franchise 'Sort Of A Shot In The Dark'
Published November 8, 2013
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AIRTIME: Another aspect that will help the NFL move forward with its plan of establishing a franchise in the British capital is increased media coverage. While the NFL has been on pay sports channels for a number of years, ’13 has been the first year that games are back on free-to-air TV. York: “Free-to-air TV will raise the awareness of the NFL and increase fan avidity probably more than anything else. This year for me, even though I’m over there every year, I’ve seen more interest in terms of sponsorship in the game and discussing how companies can be more involved in the NFL in London, and consumer products with jerseys and everything, the paraphernalia that people buy has increased tremendously." York said he has heard anecdotally from Nike that the company had two big spikes with the games over there selling NFL equipment. The combination of a change in fan demographic and increased media coverage is what increased fan awareness and fan avidity for the NFL in the U.K., York said, and that leads to the question about a future franchise. Asked about a timeline for establishing a London-based franchise, York said, “The way to look at this is not what the timeline for a franchise in London is. It is two components: what is the NFL’s investment, which continues to increase in the U.K. and other countries outside the U.S. And what is the fan interest in the NFL as we continue to grow? And I don’t think that there’s an answer for that right now.”