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Netflix to the NFL: You Complete Me

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The NFL obviously wants to go global and, among other things, this means partnering with platforms that can offer mass adoption, affordable plans, young audiences, and a strong global presence. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images
Julia Alexander
May 21, 2024

Obviously, the NFL has long-since supplanted baseball to become America’s national pastime. And media connoisseurs can rattle off several brag stats about the league’s domestic performance in their sleep: In 2023, the NFL was responsible for 93 of the top 100 telecasts; the NFL averages about 18 million viewers per game during the regular season—or about 5.5x as many as the MLB, NBA, and NHL, combined; and the NFL’s most recent rights’ negotiation netted $110 billion over 10 years, which still arguably undervalues the final fixture of American entertainment monoculture. Taylor Swift joining the fray last season was just icing on the cake.

Things are different, however, outside the U.S. Soccer (sorry, European readers), cricket, hockey, tennis, and volleyball have larger global fan bases (viewership and social media engagement) when looking at per-capita statistics. The NBA actually has a stronger presence in international territories. To put things into perspective, licensed NFL merchandise brings in roughly $3 billion a year, according to Sports Business Journal—an eye-popping figure until you consider that the top 20 European soccer clubs’ commercial (non-match day, non-media) revenues hit roughly $5.6 billion in 2023, according to Deloitte. The NFL’s decision to play games in England, Germany, and Brazil this year may help create activity in those markets, but as of now, there’s no substantial business outside the U.S.