NFL aims to become “engrained” in British sporting landscape

The NFL is looking to triple its UK fanbase in the next five years by partnering with more “quintessentially British” brands, expanding its merchandise range and forming a London-based team.


The franchise already has several UK-exclusive sponsors, including Virgin Atlantic, Chrysler and Best Buy, although Alistair Kirkwood, the NFL’s UK managing director, says the sport would also hope to attract more partnerships with “quintessentially British brands” to boost engagement.

Kirkwood says the league aims to become “engrained” in the British sporting landscape, as a complement to football and rugby, by 2016.

He adds: “In the first four to five years we were making sure we could pull the [Wembley] games off operationally, that teams and coaches didn’t feel at a disadvantage and that fans could get used to the experience and fit that into their sporting calendar. Over the next five years we are looking to become more engrained in the British sporting landscape.”

Marc Armstrong, NFL UK’s commercial director, says the “key thing” the league looks for in a partner is activation of their sponsorship.

“Partners that use the NFL as a season-long engagement tool [through ticket promotions and digital activity, for example] are far more valuable than a big cheque alone,” he says.

Sunday’s (23 October) NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the fifth annual event at Wembley stadium, was the second most watched event on Sky Sports that day, only behind English Premier League football, according to overnight BARB figures.

The league’s season-long television ratings on Channel 4 and Sky Sports are up 20% year on year, which led to its owners recently committing to continue playing regular season games in the UK until 2016, meaning there could be two or more events a year.

The NFL is also considering forming a London-based team in the next three to four years that would play weekly in the US league, which would help increase UK interest and encourage further participation in the game. Currently there are only about five players from the UK registered with the NFL.

The brand will be further extended in the UK in 2012 through merchandise partnerships with Nike and New Era.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here