NFL plans more international presence if 17 games approved

NFL

FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, the NFL logo is displayed at midfield during an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. There are some very rich people about to get a whole lot richer. Who else but NFL owners? Probably within the next week, those 32 multi-millionaires/billionaires will see their future earnings increase exponentially. The league is on the verge of extending its broadcast deals with its current partners, and with a new full-time rights holder in Amazon likely acquiring streaming rights. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, FIle)

The NFL is planning to expand its international presence with more games abroad in 2022 if the 17-game regular-season schedule is approved.

Team owners meet next week and are expected to rubber stamp the additional game, while reducing the number of preseason contests to three per club. The additional games will be interconference, all of them in current home stadiums.

But next year, the league would take four games from the conference that otherwise would be hosting nine games and designate them to occur at neutral sites, almost certainly outside the United States.

For the first time, the NFL could guarantee that all 32 clubs would play internationally at least once every eight years.

Of course, beyond those four international games, other clubs could volunteer to play home games abroad, as Jacksonville has done except in the pandemic-impacted 2020 season.

Thus far, the NFL has played 38 international regular-season games: 28 in London, six in Toronto, and four in Mexico City. In 2007, the league began yearly games in London, increasing to two matches in 2013, three in 2014 and four in 2017.

TV viewership in such markets as Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom rose 4% last season, with record Super Bowl audiences in Germany and the UK. That indicates to the league a hunger remains for its games being staged abroad.

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