Divide and conquer? NFL teams assigned territory abroad to build international fans

NFL international
The NFL is assigning international markets to teams.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Supporters of the likes of Manchester United or Chelsea could soon root for the New York Jets, while the Seattle Seahawks could get their next 12th man from Canada if the NFL has any say in it.

Not content to own Sundays only in the United States, the NFL is pushing its global ambitions a step further, carving up a map of the world and dishing out territories for 18 different franchises to build fan bases abroad.

The NFL assigned marketing rights to 26 regions in total, with teams having access to their International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA) for “fan engagement and commercialization” for at least five years beginning in 2022.

Wembley regulars the Jacksonville Jaguars were assigned to the United Kingdom. So were the Jets, while Mexico got its beloved Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers — along with seven other teams — and the Los Angeles Rams will strike out on their own in Australia and China.

The Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings will vie for Canada’s allegiances, while Germany was assigned to the Carolina Panthers and a trio of recent Super Bowl champs: the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“This important initiative enables NFL teams to develop meaningful, direct relationships with NFL fans abroad, driving fan growth and avidity globally,” NFL Chief Strategy and Growth Officer Christopher Halpin said in a statement.

The Eagles, however, were not assigned a region. They last played in England in 2018 — which is the only time they have played internationally since the NFL’s series began in 2007.

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