As the NFL continues to grow it’s international market, it’s probable that interest in the UK has reached its peak. Having said that, the sport was previously thought to have had its hey-day in the late 1980s, when the fledgling Channel 4 began to broadcast a weekly highlights show. An estimated and unprecedented four million people in the UK watched 1986’s Super Bowl XX between the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots.
That initial surge of interest waned over time, but efforts by the NFL to increase the global impact of the game, and thereby also increase interest in NFL betting in the UK, has really paid dividends since 2010. In a unique experiment in 2007 the NFL moved a regular season game to Wembley Stadium. The New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins 13-10 in front of over 81,000 spectators, with 40,000 tickets being sold within ninety minutes of them going on sale. The ‘International Series’ was increased to two games in 2013 and three the year after. There were four games in 2016, and five in 2017.
According to official figures, American Football is now the sixth most-watched sport in the UK. Ten years ago American Football did not even crack the top twenty. TV viewing of the USA’s most popular sport, no matter what fans of baseball, basketball or hockey may claim, is unlikely to match the record figures of the American viewing public, but there’s no doubt that American Football has once again become somewhat inexplicably popular in the UK.
It’s clear that there’s a market for American Football in the United Kingdom and it’s not just the NFL that have begun to capitalize on this. The majority of online sports books available to people in the UK offer users the chance to indulge in NFL betting.
Although gambling on sports is still frowned upon in the US, the people of the Britain have never really had any problems with it, and millions of pounds are exchanged between punters and bookmakers every year. As interest in American Football has increased, so has the proportion of cash spent at sports books, both online and off.
UK betting involves simple odds, you bet on a team to win, ties are very uncommon in American Football, in reflection of the probability of them doing so in the eyes of the bookie. US punters prefer ‘the spread’ – teams are given an artificial handicap in an attempt to level the playing field, and the odds given for a win are usually short for both teams.
Has interest in the NFL and NFL betting reached its peak? With the number of international games increasing every year, and rumblings of the potential of an NFL expansion team being based in London, it’s difficult to accurately predict just how big American Football in the UK could become.