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Touchdown for London.

  • Steve was joined by a fantastic panel including Aidan Mullally, Head of Business Development at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, Melissa Brown, Vice President of Commercial Partnerships at NFL UK and Tony Evans, Evening Standard columnist and NFL enthusiast.
Aweurope Wide Orange

Yesterday, our Head of Sponsorship Steve Cording hosted ESI Media's second Ad Week Europe session, delving into why US sports brands are investing in the capital. He was joined by a fantastic panel including Aidan Mullally, Head of Business Development at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, Melissa Brown, Vice President of Commercial Partnerships at NFL UK and Tony Evans, Evening Standard columnist and NFL enthusiast.

The session focused on the exciting partnership between Tottenham Hotspur and the NFL, with Spurs' new stadium being purpose built to stage NFL matches. It is due to host its first Premier League match on the 3rd April and the anticipation is reaching fever pitch. The new ground is effectively two stadiums in one. It will have two fields – the football pitch and an NFL pitch sitting underneath. Everything from the catering to the locker rooms is custom made for NFL.

As Aidan explained, the NFL is ‘all in’ and proud to call the new stadium its own. London is a key market for American football - the biggest outside the US. Regular games have been played here since 2007, with 1,977,315 fans having watched 24 games. That audience will break two million this year, with 15 million UK based NFL fans. The attendance breakdown of the London NFL games is interesting too - 90% UK wide, 5% from mainland Europe and 5% US expats.

So why is London so special for the sport, as well as the associated brands? Firstly its size – a population of 10 million is a good starting place for any brand! Secondly, the London economy continues to grow, with two-thirds of UK's highest paid individuals living in London or the South-East, HMRC data shows. We know that this affluent audience is key – the Evening Standard not only covers the NFL editorially, but has worked with brands such as Subway and Marriott, both wanting to align themselves with the sport. This is an area we expect to see grow as the NFL continues to invest more in the capital and there is also an intriguing joint proposition, with the NFL and Spurs very clear that they are open for business together, giving the opportunity to reach audiences of both sports.

Much of the fan growth in the UK is coming from other content offerings, often attracting younger fans in particular. The Red Zone is a channel that features the best bits from the NFL - designed for time-poor 16-34-year-olds who don't want to sit through a three hour game at the weekend. Another entry point for new fans is the All Or Nothing documentaries on Amazon which give an access-all-areas look at an NFL team's season – a further demonstration of the media savvy and innovative nature of the NFL.

Melissa pointed out that the sport is all about the experience - it is more than just a game. Its rising popularity in the UK is partly down to the great theatre of the sport, the impressive athleticism on show and the strategic tactics. The NFL is also more egalitarian than other sporting competitions due to the to the draft system. This sees the losing teams at the end of the season having the chance to pick the best of the next generation of college players. This makes for a more exciting competition as it isn't dominated by the same few teams every year.

The NFL and Spurs are challenging each other to be as ambitious as possible and the partnership confirms that London will be an American football city for years to come - watch this space for more developments. For the meantime, we can’t wait for our first NFL experience at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium!

If you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch, catch up with the latest NFL and sports news from the Evening Standard or follow Steve on Twitter.

Contact us at: marketing@esimedia.co.uk

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