Fans Are Keen On U.S. Pro League Games In Britain

June 13, 2019

British fans have a strong interest in American football, basketball and baseball taking place in the UK with over 40% saying they are likely to attend NFL games in the next five and more than 20% saying the same about MLB and NBA events. Check out the results of leading CRM agency Goodform’s authoritative research on iSportconnect TV.

The popularity of US sports in the UK is continuing to grow with no signs of slowing down, according to recent research from Goodform’s Sports Fan Panel.

The trend to take domestic league games to foreign soil is a reflection not only of sports entities’ desire to grow their global footprint, but of the ever-increasing way in which sport fandom crosses borders. The digital age has rendered more content available to more people more of the time – and as a result the truly global fan base is no longer the stuff of dreams but a tangible reality for many of sport’s largest rights holders.

Looking to capitalise on and accelerate international audience growth, the NFL first hosted regular season games outside of the United States in 2007. Regularly drawing sell-out crowds of 80,000+ at each fixture hosted in London since, the success looks set to continue: 2019 will see not only two games at Wembley but also two at the newly opened Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Unsurprisingly given its track record in London, the NFL remains ahead of the NBA and MLB in terms both of awareness of its UK fixtures and the level of interest in attending, with almost half of Sports Fan Panel members (43%) who stated that they were interested in the NFL saying they’re likely to attend the NFL in London in the next few years.

2019 will also see the inauguration of the MLB London Series, with two games held at the London Stadium in July representing the first time an MLB game is played in Europe. The fixtures sold out more than six months in advance despite hefty ticket prices, with top-priced seats setting fans back up to £385.

The Sports Fan Panel research highlighted that the price of attending these fixtures is a barrier to many, with the cost of the ticket being the most commonly cited barrier to attending US sports fixtures in the UK (surpassing a lack of interest in the event, and the location of the fixture). A desire to experience the atmosphere, however, is the strongest driver for fans to attend.
Reflective of the growing popularity of US sports in the UK is the clear appetite for fixtures to be held elsewhere in the UK as well as in London – with almost half saying they would be encouraged to attend NFL, and a third for each of MLB and NBA, if there were matches held outside of London.

The overall consensus also seems to be that holding US sports in London is a positive – for the sport, for fans, and for London – with two thirds acknowledging that it attracts a different fanbase to the sport, and 56% agreeing that holding fixtures in the UK is good for London.

It doesn’t just stop at the big three, as well – almost half of those surveyed said they’d be interested in seeing NHL played in the UK, and 29% would be interested in seeing MLS too. Based on the success of the NFL and MLB’s exported games, it may not be too long before we see other franchises following suit to make the most of the UK’s appetite for live sporting events.

It seems, however, that the Brits are less generous when it comes to exporting their own sporting leagues – when the Sports Fan Panel was asked about our treasured Premier League going abroad for a 39th game, there was less enthusiasm on show – only 19% said that they felt positive about this idea!

For more information on the Sports Fan Panel, please contact Alexandra Kyrke-Smith: