Germany overtakes the UK as Europe’s top market for the NFL

Seattle Seahawks fan Lukas Spiess was shocked by what he noticed during a Stuttgart football game a few weeks ago.

“This elderly gentleman a few rows in front of me was playing fantasy football on his phone,” said Spiess, president of Germany’s Sea Hawkers fan club. “That’s not something I would have expected.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Seahawks at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Sunday in the first regular season NFL game in Germany. In the next three seasons, Munich will have another and Frankfurt two.

More broadly, Germany has now surpassed Britain as the NFL’s biggest market in Europe.

“Game Pass has more subscribers, consumer products sell more in Germany than in the UK, Madden video game sells more, TV rights are comparative,” Brett Gosper, NFL Head of UK and Europe, told The Associated Press in an interview.

Britain and Germany each have 3.3 million “enthusiastic fans” of the NFL in a category that has grown rapidly for both, but Germany has slightly more “casual” fans — 17 million, Gosper said. London has been hosting regular season games since 2007.

Brady Boost?

Alexander Steinforth, the NFL general manager for Germany, acknowledged that it is “super helpful” to have seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady in the league’s debut game in Germany. Read also : The Jacksonville Jaguars announce a multi-year partnership with Magellan Transport Logistics.

But he said interest in the league trumps any one star.

“The excitement is so great that you could put almost any team in Germany and people would love to attend the game,” Steinforth said.

The online queue, when the tickets went on sale in July, hit 770,000, but it is not clear if some were bots or if this number of people were on devices. In any case, the demand was more than double that of the London games, which usually sell out quickly.

“I tried three different devices,” said Spiess, who kicked out but then landed tickets through a friend in Seattle. “A lot of people are still desperately hoping to find some leftover tickets.”

Many German fans come to Munich even without tickets, he said, “to get as much of the experience as they can.”

Allianz Arena, home of the soccer club Bayern Munich, can hold 75,000 fans.

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Fan Scramble

The Bucs are one of four teams that have international marketing rights in Germany. The others are the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. Read also : Best of 2021: Wide receivers and tight ends. That means they can cultivate fans and commercial deals in the country.

The Bucs will get a boost from hosting, but the other three will all hold events in Munich this week, also to gather as many “undecided” fans as possible.

“Not only is it a large pool, but the demographic of that pool is very valuable,” said Chiefs president Mark Donovan, citing the 18 to 34 age group. “A large portion of that demo has already indicated a desire in the NFL to be involved in. They follow the NFL in some way shape or form – games, teams, league – and they are undecided.

The NFL and the Bundesliga recently agreed to collaborate on fan acquisition and broadcast technology. Teams with rights in countries can work with individual clubs, as the Panthers did to organize a watch party with Eintracht Frankfurt.

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Wall Ball

Germans got a taste of soccer when American troops stationed here staged games in the 1970s. Read also : OMI, ‘Cheerleader’ singer and former police officer, awarded as JCF advocate. The German Football League was launched in 1979, and the country has a soccer-style club system that develops young players.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said a preseason game in August 1990 was a turning point. The Chiefs played the Los Angeles Rams at the Olympic Stadium in West Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall and shortly before reunification.

Media reports said there were 55,000 fans, many of whom didn’t understand the game but loved the Americana aspects, like tails, cheerleaders and Frisbee-hunting dogs.

“It really ignited our passion to say we really believe we can bring more soccer here in Europe,” Goodell told a fan forum in London last month.

The early version of NFL Europe launched next spring.

Meanwhile, the European League of Football recently completed its second season, with seven of its 12 teams in Germany, before expanding in 2023. The NFL allowed the new league to use team names from the NFL Europe days.

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