Nfl Globalization Strategy

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4/15/13
Globalization of the NFL

The 2010 Superbowl achieved 106 million views making it at the time, the most watched American TV broadcast of all time. However, only a few million people watched the game outside the U.S. And when you compare the number of Superbowl viewers to the FIFA World Cup, which draws upwards of 700 million views globally, the Superbowl doesn’t seem so “super’’. The NFL has failed to develop an effective strategy in order to expand its market globally relative to MLB and the NBA. This report will discuss the various threats and opportunities that the NFL faces in the globalization of the sport, and evaluate strategic options in regard to these threats and opportunities.

The Problem

In order to effectively solve a problem, before any evaluation or implementation can be done, the problem needs to be defined and identified. The problem derived from the info in the case is: In order to globalize the NFL, what are the best strategic options for implementation of long term growth?

To answer the question of strategic options, the problem needs to be broken down and discussed further. We need a benchmark to compare the NFL to. How and when did the NBA and MLB succeed in globalizing? What, if any key factors could apply to the NFL? When and how did the NFL begin attempting globalization and why did it fail? And finally, potential threats and opportunities need to be defined and discussed in order to answer the problem.

NBA & MLB

The NBA and MLB have successfully globalized their sport in key markets such as Asia, Europe and the South Americas. There is certainly an upside to international markets; from 2000-2006 MLB merchandise revenues increased 183% and approximately 35% of NBA merchandise sales come from outside the U.S. The NFL only receives 12% of its merchandise revenue from international markets. Media rights also play a huge role in globalization revenues. For example, in 2004 MLB international struck a TV deal with a Japanese advertising giant for $275 million over six years.

MLB and the NBA have expanded not only in terms of viewership and TV rights, but in regard to foreign demand and interest to play the game. Baseball had been introduced to both Japan and Cuba well before the 1900s as a result of U.S. citizens spreading the game to locals. The NBA also had much of its work done already, as the game of basketball has roots in China since 1893. Supporters of the game not associated with the NBA have helped develop it worldwide. Rob Orellana, a former coach set up the Arona Basket Sur Academy in West Africa to help kids get into colleges and clubs worldwide.

NFL Globalization Issues

The NFL began attempting to globalize in 1991 with the formation of the World League of American Football throughout Western Europe. The league would be shuffled around and renamed over the years until it disbanded in 2007. It lacked one main benefit that the NBA and MLB had when they began capitalizing and expanding their brands internationally. That benefit was the interest to play, watch and be a part of the game. The introduction of basketball and baseball was not planned by the NBA or MLB, the interest and demand spawned as a natural result of U.S. travelers or ex-patriots. These sports were introduced to nations when TVs did not exist and market competition was remote.

The NFL began expanding into nations who had little or no demand for ''American Football''.Soccer (the real football) is king throughout Europe and many more nations around the world. Individuals have grown up playing and watching soccer, not football. The demand for the sport needs to be developed from a young age. One of the reasons soccer is not widely accepted in the U.S. is because many kids do not grow up playing the sport and ultimately, will not watch it on TV later in life.

Youth development faces two key issues: the cost of equipment, as well as parents approval of the safety of the game. To play...
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