NFL’s Big Success In Germany Game Another Step Toward Possible Europe Division

The NFL is thrilled with its recent first-ever regular-season game in Germany. And that feeling highlights how important going international is for the league and how it could eventually lead to expansion, with a new Europe division.

AFC Europe?

NFC Europe?

On Thursday the league put out a press release re-committing to a future of games in Deutschland following Sunday’s Tampa Bay victory over Seattle.

“Munich will forever be a part of NFL history, in what was a significant milestone in the continued growth of the league globally and for our fans in Germany,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “…We look forward to returning to Germany in 2023 and bringing the NFL to more fans in the future.”

NFL thrilled with Germany game.
The NFL’s game in Germany’s Allianz Arena was a huge hit. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)

NFL Committed To Europe

The NFL will play at least four games in Germany up to 2025. In addition to Sunday’s first game in Germany the NFL has committed to an annual game over the next three years — with Munich and Frankfurt each set to host twice.

“The city came alive when the NFL were in town, and we cannot wait to build on this momentum as we look to grow the game at every level in the years ahead,” said GM of NFL Germany Dr. Alexander Steinforth.

A total of 69,811 fans attended the sold out game at the Allianz Arena.

DAZN Germany, part of the international streaming sports platform, confirmed the game was the most viewed single NFL broadcast on its platform after the Super Bowl.

And Fanatics, the NFL’s exclusive event retail operator for Europe, said that game day merchandise sales at the Allianz Arena were the highest ever recorded for an international NFL game.

NFL Europe International expansion
Wembley Stadium in London has been home to many NFL games. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

NFL Europe Division Team(s) In London

All of this is very good. And it falls right in to the league’s vision of expanding in Europe.

The NFL has played regular-season games in London dating back to 2007. The games there have become a staple of the league’s annual schedule, with three games played there this year.

“There’s no question that London could support not just one franchise, I think two franchises,” Goodell said during a recent visit in advance of the October London games. “I really believe that.”

But Goodell’s vision seems to look beyond just England — all due respect to tea and crumpets.

The NFL, understanding placing one (or two) teams in London would present travel and other issues, is clearly thinking posting multiple teams in Europe is a work-around to long flights and other challenges.

“That’s part of what we’re doing, right?” Goodell said. “We’re trying to sort of see, could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise? Because it would be easier as a division.”

This isn’t happening in the next couple of years, per an international league source. But it very much could happen, he said.

The NFL added a 17th game to teams’ schedules last year with international expansion in mind. The league has committed to playing at least four international games each season.

Teams play one “home” game abroad once every eight seasons, which could also serve to mitigate travel for any eventual European division teams.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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