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Volume 26 No. 65
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Goodell: NFL Can't Keep Up With Demand For International Games

The NFL is set to play four regular-season games in London this fall at two different stadiums
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league cannot keep up with the demand for regular-season games outside of the U.S. and must view media as an equal part of the international growth strategy. “The reality is that the demand for playing those games is greater than we have in the inventory,” Goodell said in an exclusive interview with Sports Business Journal. “But what we're trying to do is, it's a combination of the media, the events themselves, and our partnerships.” The NFL will play four games in London and one in Mexico City this season, 14 years after its first international regular-season game in Mexico. The games have drawn large crowds, suggesting interest in additional events. However, further expansion -- particularly a permanent franchise playing a full season in London -- would confront logistical and competitive issues that have not yet been solved. “I have no doubt that the fanbase and the commercial opportunity is there [for a franchise],” Goodell said. “Can we do it competitively? Can we do it where our 32 teams can compete at a competitive level? And that's critical. At the end of the day our game is our product.”

RESULTS FROM GAME PASS INT'L: Goodell said Game Pass Int'l, the NFL’s global direct-to-consumer product, has already helped make American football more popular in the U.K. and elsewhere, and can be further developed to that end. “That is an opportunity for us, and that's growing in double digits, it's extraordinary,” Goodell said. The Bears and Raiders open this season’s international series on Oct. 6 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is designed to host NFL games along with EPL contests. The league is returning to Mexico City this year despite last year’s cancellation of a game planned for Azteca Stadium because of poor field conditions. The NFL is also considering its path into China. 

This is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which will be published in the Sept. 2 issue of Sports Business Journal, a special edition dedicated to the NFL 100th season.