Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Despite Transatlantic flirting, NFL has failed to globalise


FNFL/licking through the television channels in Budapest, Hungary, last week, it took just five clicks before I stumbled across live coverage of the Minnesota Vikings playing the New England Patriots.

It was somewhat unexpected that a game which has very little following in Eastern Europe would be live on television but I should have known better. That day, the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers had been playing in London and now that ESPN has a channel in the region, it is surely only natural they beam in live coverage of ‘America’s Game’.

Nothing should really be surprising anymore in the era of increasingly globalized sport – I can watch six straight hours of Premier League soccer on a Saturday morning from my sofa in Miami while English NFL fans, as well as getting their solitary fix at Wembley each year, can watch live games on Sky Sports or listen to radio commentary via the BBC.

It is a far cry from the 1980s when Channel Four began their cult coverage of the NFL in the era of Dan Marino, Jim McMahon and William ‘The Fridge’ Perry while soccer fans in the United States had to make do with the ‘Soccer Made in Germany’ highlights show on television and scour foreign newspapers for two-day-old scores from Europe.