In October 2007, the NFL history books were re-written, as the first ever regular season game to be played outside the U.S. was staged on the hallowed Wembley turf in London.
It was also the month that produced another NFL first, as U.K. based fans flocked to the NFL Internet Group property (owner of NFL.com) in record numbers.
And, whilst the 291,000 fans who visited the property from within the U.K. in October might seem like a drop in the ocean compared with the some 16 million fans that visited from within the U.S. that month, interest on this side of the pond is undoubtedly growing.
They say it’s not the size of the left tackle but the weight of the heart he throws into it that counts – a logic that might explain why Washington’s Clinton Portis averaged more than twice as many yards per game than LaDanian Tomlinson during the regular season!
Here in the U.K., it is not necessarily the increasing size of the online NFL audience that will be of particular interest to advertisers, but its value. As Comscore CEO Magid Abraham revealed at the DLD conference in Munich earlier this week, more than half of the Internet’s audience is represented by “long-tailers”, that is to say infrequent, occasional users, which is a notoriously difficult segment for advertisers to reach.
Not so in the case of U.K. NFL fans, who have been staying up into the wee small hours to watch the games being beamed over by satellite since the mid-eighties. Online they are a highly engaged lot, averaging 42 minutes, 4.7 visits and 32 pages per month on their favourite American Football site.
But it is when you examine the heaviest segment of U.K. online sports fans that the really interesting stuff starts to shine through. Heavy U.K. Sports site users are what you might call “die-hard” NFL fans, 466% more likely to show up on the NFL Internet Group property than your average Internet user. To put this in perspective, this is 61% higher than their likelihood of visiting the Guardian “Soccer” pages, 73% higher than TheFA.com, and 78% higher than the fabled Football365.
With the BBC announcing to screen the Super Bowl for the first time in its history this February, and the NFL planning to roll back into town later in the year, expect to see U.K. traffic to NFL Internet Group grow even more in 2008.