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    Why Does the NFL Play in London?

    As the NFL returns to London in 2024, we examine why the league plays games in the UK and what the NFL has planned internationally going forward.

    This season, the NFL will return to London to play three regular-season games as part of the International Series, which began in 2007. Except for 2020, each NFL season since 2007 has featured at least one London matchup.

    Why does the NFL play games in London, and what is the league’s long-term goal for the International Series?

    The Origin of NFL Games in London

    While the first NFL international game in London took place in 2007, the league started putting the wheels in motion to play abroad many years earlier.

    In 1986, the NFL launched the American Bowl, an annual preseason game that was played outside of the United States. The first-ever American Bowl was played in London on Aug. 3, 1986. Over the years, it featured games in Japan, Canada, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Ireland, and Australia.

    However, after the 2005 exhibition game between the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts in Tokyo, the NFL decided to abandon the American Bowl.

    At the same time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the end of NFL Europa, the league formerly known as the World League of American Football and NFL Europe. The final season of NFL Europa took place in 2007 — the same year the NFL began playing regular-season games in London.

    Initially, the belief was that the league was assessing whether it made sense to grant London its own NFL team and how a UK-based team could work logistically. The NFL has expanded its International Series in recent years, with five overseas games being played during the 2024 season.

    Someday, we might even see London host the Super Bowl, which is something that Goodell and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have discussed.

    The NFL’s International Series Isn’t Going Anywhere

    The NFL continues to prioritize globalization, adding more International Series games and expanding to new countries.

    Going forward, every NFL season will feature a minimum of four international games, with each of the 32 teams hosting at least one game over an eight-year cycle.

    In 2022, the NFL launched its Global Markets Program, which is designed to “build brand awareness and fandom beyond the US through fan engagement, events, and commercial opportunities.” Twenty-five NFL clubs are now associated with 19 international markets (some teams are involved in more than one market).

    MORE: 5 Countries To Watch as NFL Looks to Add More International Games

    The league is planning a 2025 regular-season game in Spain. The NFL confirmed it’s considering Australia for an international tilt as well.

    The London games aren’t going anywhere, but it’s clear that the NFL wants to host games all over the world in hopes of winning over as many international fans as possible.

    Which NFL Games Will Be Played in London in 2024?

    During the 2024 NFL season, there will be five international series games, including three matchups in London. The following games will be played abroad:

    Week 1: Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Brazil)
    Week 5: Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Jets (London)
    Week 6: Chicago Bears vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London)
    Week 7: New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London)
    Week 10: New York Giants vs. Carolina Panthers (Germany)

    Will London Eventually Have an NFL Team?

    It seems unlikely that the NFL will move a franchise to London. When the league expanded the number of International Series games from one to four between 2012 and 2017, it was viewed as a test to see whether London could host as many as eight games in a single season.

    The NFL has utilized three stadiums in London, with the majority having been played at Wembley Stadium. However, Twickenham Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium have also hosted a handful of contests.

    With the launch of the international marketing areas, the league’s return to Mexico, and an emphasis on hosting International Series games in new countries, the NFL is evidently more interested in growing its global footprint than establishing a franchise on different content.

    It should be noted, however, that anything remains possible for this continually growing operation. Flights from New York City to London take only about an hour longer than flights from New York City to Los Angeles. The point is, it’s doable from a travel standpoint.

    KEEP READING: Why Do the Jaguars Always Play in London?

    The NFL hasn’t added a franchise in 21 years. In some respects, it’s achieved nice symmetry across eight equally sized divisions. Yet, in other respects — and based on what we’ve seen historically — the NFL isn’t shy about going big.

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