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Super Bowl LVII: how American football wants to conquer Europe

VS’is one of the most important sporting and media events of the year. The 57e Super Bowl (LVII) in history takes place this Sunday, February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. It opposes the two best teams of the year: the Kansas City Chiefs of star Patrick Mahomes to the Philadelphia Eagles. An event that will be attended by several hundred thousand French people, who will meet from 12:30 a.m. on Monday* (time difference requires) with a double show at the end of the day, topped off with a sleepless night to start the week off right.

Because beyond the famous half-time show – assured this year by Rihanna, who will sign her big comeback on stage – and the commercial pubs always carefully scrutinized, it is indeed a sports final that it is , the one that will decide the winners of the 2022 season, with 270 games played from the beginning of September to the end of January, several of which were played… in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Brett Gosper, a former Australian professional rugby player, has been the director of the National Football League (NFL) for Europe and the United Kingdom for two years. Its mission is to develop the fan base on the Old Continent, and thus increase the income of this still unknown sport for many. Interview.

Point : When we talk about football in France and Europe, no one thinks of its American version… And yet, it’s a sport in full progress here…

Brett Gosper: American football is a growing sport, and its spectators are growing in number. As a league, we strive to grow audiences on our broadcasters, but also on social networks, as well as on our streaming service – the NFL Game Pass – which operates internationally. We conduct commercial operations through merchandising, consumer products, videos, games… There are many opportunities for the NFL in Europe. And of course we organize matches in Europe and the UK.

Do you know how many fans follow American football, in Europe as in France?

We don’t have a precise figure for all of Europe, because we only measure our main markets, those that are growing rapidly… Our two biggest markets are Germany and the United Kingdom, where there are between 16 and 17 million fans. Among them, for each of the two countries there are nearly 3.5 million regular fans, who are our core market.

If Germany and the United Kingdom are pulling our European market upwards, so are the Nordic countries. But in terms of increasing fans, France and Spain are the new markets we are focusing on.

Crazy Super Bowl numbers

From 6,000 to 27,500 dollars: the price of tickets to attend one of the most exclusive events on the planet.
Between 6 and 7 million dollars: the price of 30 seconds of advertising.
$578 million: NBC’s total advertising revenue.
50.4 million: The number of American adults who bet money, for a total of $16 billion in wagers.
110 million: the number of American viewers in 2022, including legal streaming.
400,000: French viewers watching L’Équipe last year, to which must be added those of BeIn Sports.
1.25 billion and 11 million: respectively, the number of chicken wings and pizzas that will be devoured during the game, according to figures from the American Institute of Food Distribution dating from 2015.

How do you explain this success?

The NFL does a brilliant job of connecting with its fans and hosting signature events throughout the year. She manages to arouse interest in every aspect of this sport and to create interactions, special moments, with her supporters. I think there is no better sports marketing than the NFL, working there now for two years.

Here in Europe, we are always working to try to make American football relevant, because, yes, we work for a national line, but in other countries!

We would love to have a match in Paris, obviously.

For the first time in its history, the NFL hosted a game in Germany last November. Bayern Munich’s stadium was filled instantly, and the popular success was immense with a city that was fully ecstatic for the event.

When you see it for the first time, it’s very surprising! It gives us a lot of optimism about our ability to grow our sport in other parts of Europe. Germany has a very strong history with American football, which can be explained on the one hand by the American military bases set up after the Second World War. In the 1980s, a European league was even created with several German teams. There was a lot of investment at that time and the local media and broadcasters did a great job. They understood that by creating interest in the sport, they would also grow their channels. More recently, this work has continued with the NFL. There has been education and excitement around American football.

The other explanation in Germany, and which differs from France for example, is that there is no other contact sport on the market, like rugby, very present in France. Behind football’s nearly unchallenged dominance [celui que tout le monde connaît, NDLR] in Germany, there was a need and a curiosity to discover another “major” sport. Result: American football is now the second most popular sport in Germany.

Five matches will be organized in the UK and Germany next year, which will be a new record…

It is now a contractual obligation to organize four regular season matches, at least, each year internationally. All teams must rotate to these European destinations. It shows the investment the owners make for international matches.

And there are also the Jags [les Jaguars de Jacksonville]who each year play a home game, but organized in London [car cette équipe veut développer son marché et ses fans au Royaume-Uni, NDLR].

Contractually, it will be difficult to do more in the immediate future, unless a team sees a particular interest in it. But we will never have less than four games now.

Your basketball colleagues, the NBA, created the event in January by organizing a meeting during the Paris Games. Can we expect the same for the NFL?

We would love to have a match in Paris, obviously. Again, the NFL contract would have to evolve in this direction. But there are several scenarios that would allow us to bring American football to France. There is the possibility of preseason games (without stakes), which would be a good test to start.

We also have a new program where the franchises themselves are allowed to do business internationally, which they couldn’t do before 2022. There are 19 teams that are marketing around their brand, and that trade beyond the United States. For the moment, we don’t have a team that has chosen France, but we think that will be the case one day, and that will create the desire to come and play there. It is very likely for the future. You just have to be a little patient.

We are convinced that the French will see more and more NFL in the future.

Currently in France, what are you doing?

We work well with The Team and BeIN Sports, which help us grow American football as a sport. In addition, we monitor the talents of the French American Football League in the hope that they will one day become NFL players. Talents coming from France, we know, could create a new peak of interest and attract new fans. This is one of our goals.

We are convinced that the French will see more and more NFL in the future.

READ ALSODr. Dre reconciles America with the Super BowlIf you had to convince one of our totally newbie readers to watch the Super Bowl, what would you say?

That it’s simply the only event where 70% of America is doing the same thing at the same time, and they can’t all be wrong! It really is the best show of the year on Earth. Watching a bit of it – all of it if you have the energy – can give you an example of what the Super Bowl is all about, the hallmark event of the best league in the world. It’s something worth watching!

There is of course the half-time show, which is always very spectacular, which attracts people and makes them stay. But also, of course, there are the players, who in my eyes are the best athletes on the planet in terms of ability, stamina, the hits they take and the hits they give. It’s huge and spectacular, in every sense of the word.

But to understand all the rules, you have to get up early…

I’ve been in rugby before [Brett Gosper est un ancien joueur du Racing 92 et a occupé des responsabilités au World Rugby de 2012 à 2020, NDLR] and it’s a bit the same thing: you never really know all the rules! [Il rigole.] But you just need to know the basics to enjoy it, and that’s not hard to achieve.

Yes, it’s a more complicated sport than many of the other sports we all know, it takes a little bit more effort… But the effort is worth it, with a nice reward.

*To be continued on the channel The Team And BeIN Sports 1 from 12:30 a.m., Monday, February 13, 2023, or via the app NFL Game Pass.

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