On the surface, American football is like rugby: the balls are oval-shaped, the players throw them around, and huge hits are part and parcel of the action. Soccer, by comparison, involves lots of rolling on the floor after minimal contact. Then there are the rules, which are worlds apart.
Yep, it seems as if two of the biggest sports in the world are entirely different. However, they are more closely related than most people recognize.
The US approach to sports is notorious for its ability to turn a profit. Soccer took a while to catch up, but the statistics show that it is now on a similar level to all American sports brands, including the NFL. Franchises may beat clubs in terms of ranking, yet the proliferation of each organization is similar.
For example, the Dallas Cowboys are the richest sports team in the world in 2021, according to Forbes’ annual list. Barcelona, the nearest soccer club, ranks fourth. Still, the number of NFL and European teams in the top ten is the same. There are three representing both establishments and the National Football League just ekes out its European cousin in the top 20 by eight to six.
More noticeably, the valuations aren’t under $4.21 billion. America may have started the trend, but Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich haven’t been left behind.
There’s consistency among the top teams collecting the most money: they tend to win. Now, nobody can complain that the action is boring. Take the English Premier League, for instance, where a small side with no money can outplay the historical giants. Still, it does mean a select few teams are always in contention.
Using the EPL example again, Manchester City has won three out of the last four Premier League titles. So, it’s easy to see why the outright Premier League betting markets currently price the Citizens as the -110 odds-on favorites this season. Pep Guardiola’s squad are also joint favorites for the UEFA Champions League at +400.
The history books highlight that the NFL isn’t much different. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were dark horses within the last campaign, although they did have the likes of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. However, the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots have appeared in the last five Super Bowls, with the Chiefs remaining the +550 favorites this term.
Overlapping consumer bases
They don’t market together. The weird thing is that both organizations are targeting the other’s core base, this is because they represent excellent value for money as far as viewerships are concerned.
We don’t need to talk about the Champions League and EPL in the US too much as the connection is already very strong. What’s fascinating is how American football is moving into Europe, particularly the UK. By the end of October, 30 NFL fixtures will have been played in England as part of the NFL International Series.
– Over 4 million UK fans watched or listened to Super Bowl LV
– An average audience throughout the game of over 1 million
– Most watched Super Bowl in the UK for over 30 years
Thank you, NFL UK fans! 🏈 pic.twitter.com/L5XyNQuaf3
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) February 18, 2021
Not only have around one million people attended in person, but the audience figures for NFL games in the UK is over 13 million, meaning that NFL fever has well and truly taken hold. If anything, it’s going to get stronger over time. Although they look different on the surface, soccer and American Football share numerous similarities so don’t be surprised if you see more of either across the pond in the future.