The New York City/New Jersey teams are a combined 5-3 and seem to be heading in the right direction at MetLife Stadium. But the Yankees and Aaron Judge are taking all the oxygen out of the market for now.
This Sunday’s London game between the Giants and Packers isn’t just the first time the Brits will see a matchup of two NFL teams with winning records. It’s also the first U.K. matchup of two top 10 teams in social media followings, according to our SBJ Atlas outfit, which looked at data across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Packers are No. 4 across those platforms with 10.03 million followers, while the Giants are No. 9 with 7.76 million.
This is London’s first true A-List game, and that’s no coincidence. The Packers are playing overseas for the first time solely due to the 2021 policy change requiring all teams to shift one home date abroad at least once every eight years — abandoning the old system of populating the NFL International Series with volunteers and Super Bowl hosts, which tended to create matchups between comparatively less popular teams (and by extension, losing teams.)
Under the old system, the Packers never traveled abroad. They wouldn’t volunteer their own home games, because so many fans travel from outside the tiny Green Bay market for Packers games that the town sees real gameday economic impact that most major league cities don’t, team spokesman Aaron Popkey said. The Packers’ road games tend to be the highest-revenue matchups for their opponents, so their opponents wouldn’t volunteer those games either.
But since early 2021, the Packers knew their time was coming — every NFC team will have to give up one home date in either 2022, 2024, 2026 or 2028 (the years where the NFC gets the ninth home game under the expanded 17-game schedule). The Packers still didn’t volunteer, but the new system at least establishes equity and drives a leaguewide goal of overseas growth.
This policy won’t always guarantee big-time games overseas, but it does end the system that delivered 31 consecutive second-tier matchups for fans in the U.K.
The London games have turned into a recurring festival for all NFL fans, regardless of whom they support. Participants report seeing all 32 jerseys at Tottenham or Wembley for any and all matchups. That’s a natural opportunity for the six teams with year-round U.K. marketing rights under the NFL’s international program to activate, whether or not they’re playing — right?
Actually, no. The four U.K.-rights-holding teams who are not participating in London games this year — the Bears, Dolphins, Jets and 49ers — mostly don’t see it that way. They’re busy trying to build lasting grassroots fan bases on a 365-day basis, execs say, and are less concerned about the tentpole event vibe around the games, especially considering the stadium footprint itself is reserved for the league and participants.
“When these London games happen, I think of it more as a tourist thing, and we’re really more going after locals,” said Bears VP/Fan and Brand Development Fernando Arriola. He noted the NFL’s promotional footprint for the London games tends to take over traditional tourist spots — think Big Ben, the London Eye or Piccadilly Circus. By comparison, the Bears’ biggest win to date in U.K. has been a well-attended and well-publicized tour of youth football camps that visited towns across England, Scotland and Wales.
The 49ers are trying to take advantage of the extra attention, but not so much on the ground with live, in-person events. CMO Alex Chang said the Niners are boosting U.K.-focused team productions on team channels and with media partners Sky Sports, TalkSport and Gridiron. The Jets are hosting some B-to-B guests at the games, but also sticking to media rather than fan events.
The Dolphins are keeping their same year-round approach during these weeks (the Vikings and Jaguars both have U.K. rights and are also playing there this year, so that’s a different story).
We’re rolling out the top 75 TV shows of 2022 on Friday (and in Monday’s magazine), which was compiled by SBJ’s Austin Karp. Football is obviously a key driver of this list. Here’s a sneak peek:
- NFL games from the 2022 regular season are already among the most-viewed programs of the year, with six games in the top 25 most-viewed shows, 15 in the top 50 and 17 in the top 75. Only one NFL linear TV window is outside the top 75 thus far: Titans-Bills in Week 2 (7.92 million), which was on ESPN/ESPN2 but was part of a network overlap experiment, which saw head-to-head competition with Vikings-Eagles on ABC (the list excludes streaming-based telecasts, like Amazon’s Thursday night slate).
- The onslaught of NFL games coming the last three months of the year likely means that a record-low number of Olympic telecasts will crack the top 100 during a year in which a Summer or Winter Games was held.
- Omaha Productions, owned by Peyton Manning, has been “flooded by people in the entertainment industry” who wish to work with Eli Manning after his portrayal of fictional Chad Powers trying out for the Penn State football team, sources tell TMZ Sports. One of the ideas included creating a show/character in the vein of “Ted Lasso.”
- The power of football (NFL and college) was evident with the quick resolution to the Dish Network-Disney carriage dispute over the weekend, writes SBJ’s John Ourand.
- Betting education platform Gaming Society signed its first official sportsbook partnership with FanDuel, and the sportsbook will sponsor Gaming Society’s weekly NFL newsletter, which debuts today, reports my colleague Liz Mullen.
- Some highlights from Week 4 NFL viewership, per SBJ’s Austin Karp: CBS had its best Week 4 viewership since returning as an NFL rights holder in 1998, and is on pace for its best season since 2010. Also, NFL Network easily had its most-watched Sunday morning game from London on record.