American Football is part of the “big four” in the United States’ sports scene. Not only that, but the all-action game is the most popular sport in America, and that status was solidified when the 2019 NFL Draft amassed 6.1 million viewers. However, despite the game’s local appeal, it’s in soccer’s shadows from a global popularity standpoint. So, let’s take a look at why that’s the case and consider how that could change over the coming years, looking at the role of entertainment streams, like video games and online casinos.
Soccer is a More Well-Known and Explored Phenomenon
American Football first came to fruition during the mid-19th century, although the sport reached new heights following the NFL’s creation in 1920. While the league has played a leading role in expanding the game’s reach, many sports fans outside of the US don’t follow the game or know the players, teams, or rules.
As touched on above, one reason for this lack of understanding relates to the entertainment industry. Few can argue that soccer hasn’t been a more marketable sport in the 21st century, and that’s evident from the game’s entertainment presence. Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL video game franchise has sold over 100 million units, while their FIFA series sold around 325 million units as of February 2021. This makes the soccer series the highest-selling sports video game franchise in history, according to Forbes.
However, the differences continue beyond mainstream gaming. In the online casino sector, there are also a whole host of soccer-themed games at operators like Casinomasters. The platform hosts Football Star, Football Glory, and Football: Champions Cup, with the latter being inspired by the 2016 European Championships. Furthermore, NFL coaching simulators failed to hit the heights following the release of NFL Head Coach in 2006, while Sports Interactive’s Football Manager franchise continues to captivate audiences.
How Can American Football Become More Popular Outside of the US?
To highlight the difference between soccer and American football, Sports Show states that American Football is the ninth most popular sport worldwide with around 410 million fans. Soccer, on the other hand, has a global audience base of 3.5 billion people. As such, perhaps the best way to heighten American football’s global appeal is to improve the NFL’s broadcasting, making it more accessible to European audiences. While time differences may be an issue, the sport is, at its core, a combination of soccer’s strategic nature and rugby’s controlled violence. Because of that, there’s scope for it to catch on in Europe.
Over the coming years, there’s a possibility that American football could take off in the United Kingdom following Tottenham Hotspur’s desire to host NFL games. In fact, ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, Spurs have already agreed to host the Atlanta Falcons in October when they face a non-divisional opponent, as per Bleacher Report. If more teams embrace American football, it could prove beneficial to all parties from a financial and popularity standpoint.
Is Surpassing Soccer a Possibility?
American football isn’t alone in dreaming of surpassing soccer’s popularity. However, unfortunately for NFL fanatics, it appears unlikely that the sport will amass a global audience base that dwarfs the much-loved game. That said, the foundations are in place for American football to climb the ladder and better its current position as the world’s ninth most popular sport.
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