No sport earns more money than the National Football League from the USA. Now she wants to conquer the European market – for the second time. Will it work this time?
Even two hours after the end of the game, people are still standing close together in the lane. The air is stagnant, it smells of alcohol, everyone is talking animatedly. The languages change, from German to English, from hands to feet; Many of the travelers are wearing sack-sized red jerseys, some in turquoise blue, some in green, others in white. One man falls into another. One in blue, the other red. “Hey, you’re the only one in blue here,” one of them says in English with a slightly raised voice, but he immediately hugs the person he’s talking to and laughs. “I respect that!”
They both talk for another ten minutes until the train pulls into Frankfurt Central Station. Where they come from, what they do – and above all: how they found the game. The Kansas City Chiefs (red) beat the Miami Dolphins (turquoise blue) 21:14 two hours earlier. American football in the middle of Frankfurt; a regular league game of the US professional league, played in Germany.
Why? Because the NFL – the National Football League from the USA – has recently seen this country as the most important growth market outside of its homeland. There is great interest, as you can see not only from this full track; larger than in other countries. And the NFL is trying really hard to heat it up. There were two games played in Frankfurt in November, and the league loudly reported that there were over three million ticket requests – with only 100,000 tickets available.
In terms of TV interest, American football is actually already the second most popular sport in Germany, according to the Video Research Working Group – after football, which is, however, unassailably ahead. On good days, the broadcaster RTL (which, like Capital, belongs to the RTL Deutschland media group) has a market share of almost 30 percent of viewers under 29 with the games.
And anyway: No other sports league in the world is bigger than the NFL. It made $18.6 billion in sales in 2022 alone, more than the five largest soccer leagues in Europe – combined. American football is pop culture; Stars like Taylor Swift, Kevin Hart and US President Joe Biden come to the stadium, and college games often attract more than 100,000 people. And yet the NFL is increasingly reaching its limits to growth at home, also because basketball is more popular with many young people there. That’s why the NFL is now – once again – looking for its future abroad. This is already the second attempt to gain a foothold in this country. As early as 1995, NFL Europe started, its own European league, with which $30 million was sunk every year. In 2007 the NFL canceled the project. So will the jump across the Atlantic be successful this time?
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