I recently had the good fortune to meet David Tossell, Head of Public Affairs in the UK and Europe for the NFL. He shared some background on the NFL in Europe, what his work entails, and the future of the NFL internationally. For an NFL devotee such as myself, his words were gold. In a series of posts we will take a look at some things he had to say, beginning with his Pre-Super Bowl take on the big game.
Tossell: “I am rooting for it to be close after halftime. Since the game kicks off at 11:30, we need a close game after halftime to keep viewership high.
Last year, even though it ended up a good game, it looked like a blowout at halftime and at the start of the power outage, leading to a big dip in ratings.”
This is after the San Francisco 49ers, who have a much bigger UK following than either the Seahawks or the Broncos, failed to make the big game. In other words, it was not the best day for the NFL abroad. The ratings have not yet been released, but I can almost guarantee a sharp drop right after Percy Harvin’s kickoff return TD to begin the second half—if they had not already gone to bed during or right after Bruno Mars’ halftime performance.
I went to a local sports bar to watch the Super Bowl. It had a great atmosphere, jerseys of all different teams, kind service and good but overpriced food and drinks. But by halftime I had had enough. I came back to my flat and persevered until 3 am London time, when the NFL season officially came to a close, before having a night’s sleep—make that a nap—before beginning the next day. It is fair to say that the game itself did not entice fans not dedicated to the sport to stay up and watch.
Where does this leave the NFL abroad—and in particular, in the UK? Keep your eye on NinerNoise.com for future articles that will address this increasingly intriguing topic.