Over the years, the NFL has grown to a product that reaches an audience far beyond the United States’. The league, ever trying to increase its
revenue appeal, has reacted accordingly and in 2007 held its first regular season contest abroad. By the end of the 2018 season, a total of 27 games will have been played on international soil – the vast majority of which in the United Kingdom: London has hosted 24 regular season games.
The international market clearly is one that the NFL wants to reach, and playing in London has proved to be an easy way of doing that (even though the games played there have not always been up to the level of other regular season matchups). Yesterday’s announcement that the league will play four games in the city – two at Wembley Stadium, two at the newly built Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – next year does therefore not come as a surprise.
Only one of the eight teams to play in London next year is already known: the Jacksonville Jaguars will again host a home game overseas. The other seven clubs to participate in this part of the International Series (there will likely also be at least one game in Mexico City again) have not been announced just yet, but it would not be a surprise if the New England Patriots ultimately turned out to be one of them.
After all, the team has not visited London since a 2012 game against the then-St. Louis Rams. Only six other teams have not been to the city in this long: Tampa Bay, Denver, Chicago, Carolina, Green Bay, and Houston. Like the Jaguars, though, none of the teams is currently scheduled to be on New England’s 2019 season unless the Broncos or Texans finish their respective divisions in the same place as the Patriots.
Another argument why the league might pick New England to go to London next year is the team’s international appeal: its dynasty and the NFL’s international growth happened simultaneously, which has created an enormous Patriots fanbase outside of the United States. The NFL trying to milk this popularity of Tom Brady and company with a London game in 2019 does not appear to be out of the ordinary.
But while playing on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is not exactly attractive from the teams’ perspective, the Patriots have adapted well in the past: New England won twice its London games (2009, 2012) by a combined score of 80-14.