interest in football skyrockets

interest in football skyrockets

“In Spain, the American football fan is growing and the NFL has noticed it. It’s like a wedding that’s about to take place.”. Iker Sagasti, journalist and one of the hosts of ‘100 Yardas’, Cadena Ser’s best-selling podcast on the sport – the largest in number of followers in the United States – comments and illustrates it. radio program, with eight years already on the borderless antenna that is the Internet, is a good indicator of how the following of the NFL (acronym for National Football League) has skyrocketed in Spain. Above all, since the pandemic: in 2019, they had around 300,000 downloads per year, in 2020 they exceeded one million, and in 2021, last season they added 2.6 million. Of these, approximately 70% are Spanish.

The same phenomenon, that of a brutal growth, is corroborated by Movistar, the platform which broadcasts the competition and which has its television rights until 2024. The rise in viewership last season was “very significant”, they point out from Movistar. And they specify it: 71% more viewers than the previous year (2020) and 181% more than in 2018. Javi López, one of Movistar’s narrators and specialist in American football, exposes some of its attractions: “Visually, it is almost impossible to improve. And in few sports, it happens that every game can be the game of the game, the most decisive moment of the game.

López and Sagasti agree that the The growth of fans of this sport is closely linked to the facilities offered by online and multimedia tools available today: the emergence of podcasts, video on demand, etc. “Information has become globalized, you can access all kinds of content…”, explains López. They, the promoters of the NFL in Spain, are also one of the secrets of the increase in the number of fans: enthusiasts, professionals with an in-depth knowledge of the game who shun fanism and seek to entertain and be educational. . “For us [‘100 Yardas’] Entertaining is at the forefront of our intentions and trying to be educational so that people who come to the sport know about it,” says Sagasti.

This ‘boom’ in Spanish territory – “it’s no longer like in the 2000s it was ‘those geeks who love American football'” – has not gone unnoticed in the gigantic enterprise that is the NFL. The league indicated at the end of last year Spain as one of its priority markets to develop the brand of this spectacular sport which accumulates millionaire audiences day after day and which has in the Super Bowl, the championship final, the great annual showcase. Last season, 112 million viewers watched the title game in the United States alone. Sagasti provides another information that helps to understand the size of the circus: “They know how to sell it very well, only in this match, for example, seven times more merchandising is sold than in a Champions League final”.

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Precisely the Superbowl, the “spectacle” that surrounds it and all its pomp, is usually a hook to attract new followers to this sport all over the world. The dynamics of the game are complex, but many stay forever when they jump the barrier that separates them from a sport rich in tactics – “the more you understand, the more it hooks you”, says López -, extremely competitive (only 17 days ) and featuring super elite athletes. “I am very attracted by the fact that the best athletes in the world should not have only one type of physique, it is a sport that is becoming very democratized”, explains Sagasti. In the NFL, small and very fast men live side by side with 300-pound behemoths.Spain’s commitment to the NFL is serious and his in-person landing is imminent. Sagasti, one of the main promoters of American football in Spain, was invited this summer to Chicago by the Bears (name of the team from the city of Illinois) so that he could get to know the franchise. And, of course, that he told through ‘100 Yards’ everything he saw there and learned about the league.

All these movements are part of a strategy that will end, in the not too distant horizon, with the dispute of an official match in a Spanish city, a formula to export the product which is already manufactured in London and, from this year, in Munich. “When American football is going to really explode in Spain, it’s when a game is played here,” says Sagasti. It could happen in three or four years. “If that happens, and, let’s imagine that in 2025 the NFL announces a game in Spain for four years in Madrid, Barcelona or both cities, then I think the NFL can become NBA fans in Spain,” predicts the journalist.

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