The Expansion of Sports to New Markets

The sports industry is already a huge international industry, but there is still enormous potential in other parts of the world. Especially in Asia, there is a huge potential for all different kinds of sports and many sports try to make the move to the Asian market.

The emergence of football in not only the Asian market but also in the American market over the past year cannot be overseen. Many traditional and famous football clubs have spent the preparation for their season in Asia and the USA over the past few years. Since 2013 the International Champions Cup (ICC) is being played. The ICC features big-name teams like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspurs, and many other important European clubs. What’s special about the ICC though, is that it is held in Europe, North America, and Asia. In 2014 109.318 fans went to Michigan Stadium to see a game between Real Madrid and Manchester United. That marked the record for the most fans that visited a football game in America.

Due to the efforts of European clubs to become attractive for other markets where football isn’t as established as in Europe, football is now the sport with the most growing popularity in America. With a population of about 327 million people, this is a huge opportunity for football to grow and with it the individual clubs as well. This development has positive but also negative side-effects. On the positive side youth academies in countries with these emerging markets would improve drastically and that would be a huge improvement for international football. On the other side though, the famous clubs that already have a lot of money would have even more money and that would separate the good clubs from the mediocre ones even further. National leagues like the Bundesliga or the Ligue 1 which are already being dominated by one club would be even less interesting. Only if smaller clubs could also make a move to become internationally relevant this development could be stopped.

Not only football is trying to expand to broader markets though. Another sport that is making big moves in that direction right now is American Football. According to Harris poll in 2016, 33% of American adults stated that American Football was their favourite sport. That makes it the most popular sport in the USA. Seeing these numbers one would think that American Football should be popular in other big countries as well, but it isn’t just yet. With only being relevant in the USA up to this point, a lot of potential is still out there for the American Football industry and it is starting to reach for that potential.

Since 2007 the NFL has been playing regular season games in London, with great success. These games are regularly sold out and a big fan community has emerged in the UK. According to the NFL office in London, there are more than 13 million American Football fans and over 50.000 active players in the UK. Germany follows after the UK with about 35.000 active players. But not only in Europe American Football is seeing a huge increase in popularity. China is another country where the community of American Football fans and players keeps on growing. Other than football though, this has a different effect on the sport.

Although money plays a role in American Football, it is far less important than in normal football. Since teams can’t buy players from other teams with money and since the NFL has a salary cap for how much each team can pay their players, the competition in the NFL would not be impacted. What would be impacted though, is the American economy. With the sales of not only merchandise but also sportswear brands like Adidas or Under Armour, the USA would see a rise in exports. The money earned from could be invested in youth academies, which would help the sport grow even more.

There is huge potential for sports to expand to markets, where they aren’t popular yet and right now we can see many organizations trying to make this jump to the foreign countries. The results cannot be foreseen yet, but it looks like sports are getting more international and that brings more diversity and more individual class to these sports.

Photo credits to NFL ( )


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