How Important are London Games to NFL Fans?
10 years in to the NFL International Series we are investigating, with the help of Google Trends, just how important live games are to fans in the UK.
In October 2007, a rain soaked Wembley first saw regular season NFL action.
The New York Giants eked out a 13-10 win over the Miami Dolphins in as ugly an NFL game as you might ever find.
10 years on, London is still waiting for a marquee NFL match-up. Yet the games have gone from strength to strength. Even the smaller market teams that travel over sell out games within a few hours.
Every time more games are added the interest peaks further and further.
As you can see here, from 2007 to 2012 a consistent level of growth can be seen. Then Google searches jump with 2 games being played. Further additions to the schedule over the last few years see further jumps.
All very impressive. But what does it mean in real terms for the fan base? Do UK fans care about seeing a team in person or do they care more about the team’s success?
A quick comparison between two teams, the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, can tell us a lot.
The Patriots are the model of NFL success. Five Super Bowl wins from seven appearances in the 21st century.
Conversely the Jaguars have the third fewest wins over the last ten years. Though importantly for us they have been playing in London every year since 2013.
The chart below shows UK Google searches since 2007 for both teams.
The Patriots have played in four Super Bowls (February of 2008, 2012, 2015, and 2017) over this period and by far the largest spikes are seen at these points.
However, their two London appearances (October of 2009 and 2012) are easily the next high points.
Compared to the Jaguars they have significantly more overall searches.
The Jaguars only see spikes each time they play at Wembley and even then don’t overtake the Patriots.
It looks like fair weather fans permeate every sport. Unsurprisingly people like to watch teams win.
To take the game to a new level in the UK then, maybe the answer is not more games but rather more competitive teams, or maybe even both.