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NFL awards international marketing rights to 18 teams

The National Football League (NFL) has unveiled the next stage of its global development plans by revealing that 18 of its teams have been granted access to 26 International Home Marketing Areas (IHMAs) across eight different countries.

The conclusion of the ground-breaking, new initiative for the League grants clubs access to international territories for marketing, fan engagement and commercialisation as part of a long-term, strategic effort to enable clubs to build their global brands while driving NFL fan growth internationally. It also potentially sets out a template for future games held overseas.

As part of the IHMA program, clubs will have access to international markets for at least a five-year term, during which a franchise will have rights to pursue activities in that international market that are consistent with what they can do in their domestic HMA.

This includes in-person and digital marketing, corporate sponsorship sales, fan events and activations, youth football activities, merchandise sales and co-marketing relationships with other sports and entertainment properties in the market. Clubs can begin to activate in their awarded market(s) on January 1, with the allocation being as follows:

UK: Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers

Mexico: Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and 49ers

Germany: Carolina Panthers, Chiefs, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Canada: Vikings and Seattle Seahawks

Spain: Bears and Dolphins

China: Los Angeles Rams

Brazil: Dolphins

Australia: Rams

In March, it was announced that the NFL would change its season structure for the first time since 1978 after clubs voted to approve measures that will also usher in a new system to allocate international games.

The enhanced season will ensure that, beginning in 2022, all 32 clubs will play internationally at least once every eight years. The NFL said the scheduling of up to four neutral-site games per year in a country outside the United States will focus initially on Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America and the UK. In addition, interested clubs can continue to volunteer to play home games internationally, as is currently the case.

Coupled with the League’s commitment to International Games, the NFL said that it will use its “best efforts” to ensure clubs play their international games in their International HMAs, “where possible”. Following the launch of this initiative, clubs may submit future proposals for International Committee review annually each spring.

“NFL fandom begins with our clubs,” said Christopher Halpin, NFL executive vice-president and chief strategy and growth officer. “This important initiative enables NFL teams to develop meaningful, direct relationships with NFL fans abroad, driving fan growth and avidity globally.

“We were very pleased with the number, creativity and level of commitment of club proposals across the board in this initial application period and look forward to teams launching their efforts early next year.”

Joel Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner/co-chairman and NFL International Committee chairman, added: “This announcement is a significant milestone in our efforts to broaden the NFL’s global reach by building long-term relationships with these international markets that will play a large role in the continued growth and expansion of our sport for years to come.

“Much of our league success is rooted in the strong connection that our individual teams have built with their fans, and this initiative creates many more avenues for engaging and energising our international fanbase.”

The NFL told TheStadiumBusiness.com in October that it is keen to return to Wembley Stadium in 2022, but admitted that it faces scheduling challenges as it looks to draw up an international game calendar next year.

The 2021 London Games drew to a thrilling close on October 17 as the Jacksonville Jaguars ended their 20-game losing streak by securing a tight 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins in front of 60,784 fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The NFL also announced in October that the German cities of Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich are in discussions to host regular-season games. The three cities were invited to proceed to the ‘candidate phase’ of the selection process following an initial period in which expressions of interest were received from multiple cities.