By Barry Janoff
October 22, 2015: The NFL, which has been feeding people in the U.K. a steady diet of football since 2007, has extended its deal to play regular-season games in London’s Wembley Stadium for an additional five years, with at least two games per year to be played at Wembley through 2020.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, already in the third year of a four-year commitment as part of the NFL International Series to play one home game in London per year through 2016, also have extended that agreement through 2020.
The Jaguars face the Buffalo Bills this Sunday (Oct. 25) in Wembley in what will be the first global live stream of a regular season NFL game across devices (Yahoo!, 9:30 AM ET/2:30 PM London time).
The NFL's pact also gives it the option to extend the agreement for an additional five years beyond 2020.
Financial terms were not releases.
In addition, the NFL will begin to play a minimum of two games per year in the currently under construction stadium that will be home to the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur via a ten-year deal signed earlier this year. The venue is scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.
The moves support the NFL's desire to build a global brand and also give credence to those who want to see a league franchise and/or the Super Bowl come to London.
“This new agreement extends a very successful, long-term relationship,” Mark Waller, NFL evp-International, said in a statement. “It is very exciting to be making this announcement in the same week that we will reach one million fans for the International Series in London.”
The Jaguars-Bills game on Sunday, the second of three NFL game in Wembley this season, will be the 13th game played in London and will see the one-millionth NFL fan through the turnstiles, according to the league.
The third game will be Nov. 1 between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs.
Earlier this month, the NFL approved a resolution that extends the its "ability to play international regular-season games through 2025 and broadens the opportunity to play games in countries other than the United Kingdom."
Although future games were not yet unveiled, the NFL is expected to begin a series in Mexico City.
Among the companies that are officially joined with the NFL International Series and/or the NFL U.K. Web site are Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), DraftKings, Five Guys, Hyundai, Pepsi Max, Visa, Microsoft, Marriott, Papa John's, Virgin Atlantic, Majestic, Bose and Ion Camera.
The NFL said it has a U.K. fan base of more than 13 million, with the league eyeing growth and potentially projecting a franchise there by 2022.
"It's a realistic time frame," Waller told NFL.com. "But there are still things we need to test for, so we have to be able to build a lot of things into the next few years. We don't need to prove as much on the fan-demand side. We feel comfortable that, in a few years, we'll be where we need to be there. The real focus is doing things to keep testing. We're really focusing on the logistical and operational side."
Of the 11 NFL games played in Wembley prior to this season, dating back to 2007, only one drew fewer than 77,000, with a high of 84,254 attending the New England Patriots-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in 2009.
The most recent was Oct. 4, when the New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins, 27-14, before a crowd of 83,986.
According to Weller, “These agreements reiterate the NFL’s commitment to the U.K., with two stadium deals running concurrently, . . . We are very appreciative of the Jaguars extending their commitment to the U.K. market, which emphasizes the club’s and league’s strong ambition to continue to grow the fan base for NFL football beyond the borders of the United States.”
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