As part of initial research I create a small questionnaire to get a small sample of general knowledge about the NFL in the UK. It didn’t garner a lot of responses but gives a good quick look at what people know about the NFL.
All the people that responded said they had at least heard of the sport American football with the majority saying they were familiar with it. The question ‘have you heard of the NFL?’ got the same results. When it came to the question of watching the NFL the majority said they had watched it though most selected the options for ‘once or twice’ and ‘occasionally’.
I then had a couple questions asking whether respondents were familiar with certain NFL franchises and players, which got some interesting results. For the NFL franchises I tried to select a mixture of currently successful and unsuccessful teams as well as financially small and large teams. The team that came out on top was the Chicago Bears followed by the New York Giants, which is interesting because they are two teams that haven’t had much success in recent years but have long histories and are two of the bigger teams financially. The Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers where the next three teams and are all larger teams with a lot of success. The surprises where the LA Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have both won a Super Bowl in the last couple seasons but ranked towards the bottom in recognition. Another interesting point was the Oakland Raiders ranking above the Las Vegas Raiders, the Raiders franchise recently moved to Las Vegas and so it appears that people still associate them with Oakland and don’t recognise them moving to Las Vegas.
Next was asking people if they recognised a certain players. For this I selected a mixture of the games best players both recent currently active players, recently retired players as well as historically great players. Again this question got interesting results, unsurprisingly thought was Tom Brady ranked as the most recognised player, him being the most successful player ever in the sport at the most idolised position of quarterback and still playing means he is well known. Second was Peyton Manning who was another extremely successful quarterback who retired a few seasons ago. After that Dan Marino another hall of fame and very successful quarterback, but he came joint second with the none of the above option. It isn’t surprising to see that the very successful quarterbacks are the ones that become the most recognised, the position of quarterback is elevated like no other position in sport and very successful ones are idolised. It also wasn’t surprising to see that not many people recognised the older players that have longed retired but are still considered some of the best to play. Whilst they are household names for US residents, they likely predate the sports expansion to the UK and don’t generate the notoriety of the sports modern stars.
Next followed questions talking about the NFL in the UK, the London International Series of games and a possible UK franchise. The all but 1 of respondents said they had not been to a London game which makes sense as the games sell out quick and are actively sort after by the UKs most devoted fans. The next two questions tried to gauge support for a UK franchise, the first would you follow a UK based team got majority ‘maybe’ or ‘no’ response with a minority saying ‘yes’ or ‘yes if they were good’. I think that the initial interest in a UK team would be high but as some answered interest would diminish as the novelty wore off and if the team struggled competing. The second question asked if people would travel to watch the game. This was split between the ‘no’, ‘only if local’ and ‘yes, but only occasionally’. I think the London games success has been as an exhibition match that people travel to once or twice a season to see different teams play, but once its every week and a larger financial commitment the UK team may struggle to retain a large regular crowd.
Lastly a question about which of a selection of UK cities do people think could host a UK franchise. I think this question suffered from being miss understood so the results may not be accurate but shows a general trend. I used a selection of the UKs largest cities as well as sneaking St Helens in there. No surprise the London came out on top though it was tied with Manchester, second was Liverpool and third was Birmingham. Realistically only London would be considered by the NFL for an franchise which is unfortunate but understandable. I think the misinterpretation may have affected results as a couple respondents after told me they interpreted it as a team touring these cities rather than providing a permanent home to a NFL team. Though I think peoples lack of knowledge around the process of NFL franchise and the size of city that usually would host a team may be the largest reason for a lot of the cities being listed higher than they should.
Whilst this is a good start for gaining some information on the interest and knowledge of the NFL in the UK, more indepth research is required to get a better understanding as I start to develop the brand and marketing materials.
I’m Aidan Moore, a Graphic Design student at University Centre St Helens.
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Based in St Helens, Merseyside, UK