Super Bowl Sunday was Mad Monday Down Under. Because of the time difference, the game aired from 10:30am to 3:00pm on Monday in Australia, and despite the fact that it was a “work day”, hundreds of thousands of Aussies were glued to the game, chowing down on “American food” and downing beers at packed local pubs.
It’s become “one of the biggest events in Sydney’s hospitality calendar”, according to the Daily Telegraph, meaning big business for what would normally be “the deadest day”. In terms of the broadcast, last year’s Super Bowl attracted 600,000 viewers, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), exceeding those watching regular season games of the domestic football codes – Australian Rules Football (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL). 2024’s Super Bowl would have attracted vastly more eyeballs, aided no doubt by one T. Swift, and, perhaps, the presence of an Aussie on the 49’ers team, punter and ex-glazier Mitch Wishnowsky.
With due regard to Mitch though, Taylor turbo-charged the event for Aussies, broadening its appeal to women in particular.
Even though Australia is a world away from the USA, and a relatively small market (27 million people), it’s a microcosm of how the world’s richest sporting league is rapidly taking the game to the globe.
The NFL now has “boots on the ground” in the country, with the league’s first full-time General Manager in Australia and New Zealand, Charlotte Offord. Flag football has been rolled out at a grass-roots level in schools with the aim of going from 19,000 current participants to “over 100,000 this year”, Offord said in a podcast interview. American Football is played by “enthusiastic amateurs” in all Australian states apart from the Northern Territory. And the LA Rams and Philadelphia Eagles have been given “International Home Marketing Area” rights over Australia and New Zealand. It’s not “that far away” for Australia to host an NFL game, Offord has speculated.
Meanwhile in other markets, the NFL is becoming even more of a fixture. Regular season NFL games have been played to sold-out crowds in London since 2007, and this year will also see games staged in Brazil (the first ever in South America) and Germany, with both Spain and Mexico on the agenda for 2025. Games have been broadcast in Spanish, both in and outside the U.S. for over a decade.
Ghana, of all places, is a major growth market for the NFL, and featured in an inspiring 2-minute spot aired in the Super Bowl, highlighting growth in the game around the globe and the search for international talent.
Germany is one of the hottest markets for the NFL, where the game was first introduced by U.S. soldiers after the Second World War. Off the back of major interest generated by games staged in Munich and Frankfurt, the NFL has opened an office in Dusseldorf.
The Super Bowl, however, is the tentpole event for the NFL and was expected to be “the most watched NFL game ever around the world”. (Unsurprising, since it was the most viewed in the U.S. since the Apollo moon landing, at 123.4 million.) From Sydney to Santiago, in 190 countries around the planet, millions tuned in, many getting their first taste of American Football…along with images of Taylor and Travis’ love story. In the UK, half of Swift’s fan-base was planning to watch the game.
No doubt, the NFL hopes that consumers’ next stop will be an NFL shop for their favorite team’s merch. Or, of course, for the NFL-endorsed Erin Andrews vintage-inspired Chiefs red windbreaker jacket that Taylor Swift favors (currently out of stock).
The “Taylor Effect” must provide an accelerator for the NFL’s international expansion. As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says in somewhat understated fashion, “obviously it creates a buzz”.
Will the day ever come when the Super Bowl itself is staged outside the U.S.? Goodell believes it’s “not impossible, and…something that has been discussed before.” And as Goodell aims to reach $25 billion in revenue for the league by 2027 (up from around $19 billion today), innovative – and swift – international expansion will remain top of the agenda.