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Volume 26 No. 181
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NFL Considering Opening Up Foreign Markets To Teams

One idea is for teams to lay out a strategy and plan to specifically target particular int'l markets
Photo: getty images
One idea is for teams to lay out a strategy and plan to specifically target particular int'l markets
Photo: getty images
One idea is for teams to lay out a strategy and plan to specifically target particular int'l markets
Photo: getty images

Talks are underway about opening up foreign markets to NFL teams. If the plan comes together, it would be an inflection point for the league's global strategy, which to date has been driven out of NFL HQ on Park Avenue. Advocates believe teams and their stars are the ones who can take fan passion to the next level in these new markets. Under one idea floated in recent days, teams would have the chance to lay out a strategic justification for wanting a particular market, and a plan to execute there. Key unknowns right now include whether the local rights would be exclusive, whether teams would bid on cities, regions or whole countries and how exactly the league would choose winners. With the Patriots being big social media stars in China, it is not hard to imagine the Pats being granted more flexibility in Beijing, for instance.

FOLLOWING JAGUARS' MODEL: Sources describe the vision as an expansion of what the Jaguars enjoy in London now: A satellite office, special rights to activate and sell locally (in categories not already sold globally by the league) and the understanding that they would be involved in possible NFL games played there in the future. The NBA in April allowed teams to sell international marketing rights to sponsors, but otherwise, this would be a significant first for the Big Four leagues. If this does not happen, it is because the league cannot find a way to maintain "alignment" among the 32 clubs. Global brands like the Cowboys and Patriots would have more to spend, and gain, in other countries. Assurances that the entire league will benefit will be crucial.