There will be a lot of bleary-eyed Brits walking into work this morning after staying up into the early hours to catch the 52nd Super Bowl: the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).
What was once a sport almost exclusively confined to the US is now an ever-increasing global business, with last year’s Super Bowl being officially broadcast or streamed to over 230 countries worldwide, watched by 114million viewers across America alone.
According to Repucom (now Nielsen sport), in the UK alone the NFL ranks as the seventh most popular sport, ahead of favourites like Tennis, Snooker and Darts. And this popularity is growing considerably – in 2011 Repucom found that 8% of the UK was interested in the NFL, however today that level sits around the 15% mark.
One of the driving forces behind this increasing popularity is the ‘London Series’ which sees NFL games played at Wembley or Twickenham. Being played on home soil these games come with the obvious benefit of being played at a more sociable hour to those in the States, significantly increasing awareness and accessibility of the game. Social media has also been a strong enabler for Brits to keep up with the action over the pond.
With growing popularity and serious talk of the NFL setting up a permanent franchise in London; we can expect to see much more American football on our screens in the near future – and maybe even in the pub! At the very least, for now, it is a sport with an ever-increasing following in the UK and one that should not be ignored for potential media partnerships.