JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's certainly no surprise that the Jaguars have extended their agreement to play one home game a year in London through 2020. It's only a bit surprising that the new deal is not for longer.
IMAGES: Jaguars board flight for London
"Our interest in extending our agreement to play a home game each season in London is nothing new. So, we're very happy to make it official today," Shad Khan owner announced Thursday from London.
Khan was interested in extending the deal through 2030 but instead; it's an arrangement to continue to play at Wembley Stadium through 2020 with an opportunity to extend the deal into 2025. Although Khan has also expressed an interest in playing a game in Europe as well, for now, just one game a year overseas will be on the schedule for the Jaguars. Perhaps if the team was winning there'd be more thought of expanding the footprint onto the Continent but for now, the focus is to get a winning team on the field.
NFL clubs recently approved a resolution to continue playing international regular-season games through the 2025 season and expanded the league's ability to play those games in countries and territories beyond the UK. Germany and Mexico City are the two places the league would like to play next. If he can figure out how to make it work and not impact the revenue or the product on the field, Khan would like to have the Jaguars in the game in Germany. It's possible the Jaguars could play a "road" game there either the week before or after the London game. But that's just a thought for now.
A quick look at the Jaguars revenue makes it clear that London is a key component in the Jaguars profitability. Khan has said many times that a "sustainable franchise in Jacksonville is only helped by playing a game in London."
Thursday he reiterated that.
"This is great news for the Jaguars and the stability of the team in Jacksonville, which has come to embrace London as our home away from home."
An important part of the deal for Khan was to continue to play at Wembley. Earlier this year, the NFL and the English Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur franchise announced an agreement to play a minimum of two games per year during a 10-year partnership at Tottenham's new state-of-the-art stadium, due to open in the summer of 2018.
That means the league will have two different stadiums hosting games in London. The NFL's Vice President of International Mark Waller said today at the announcement, "We are very appreciative of the Jaguars extending their commitment to the UK market, which emphasizes the club's and league's strong ambition to continue to grow the fan base for NFL football beyond the borders of the United States."
When you're in London for the game, you see a lot of Jaguars gear on fans and for sale. While Americans who have made the trip wear some of it, a surprising number of International NFL fans have embraced the Jaguars as "their team."
"We are proud that the NFL identified Wembley Stadium 10 years ago to serve as the focal point of its vision for international expansion," said FA Group Operations Director Julie Harringtonaid said. "Since then, we have forged a very special partnership with Mr. Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Today's news and this deal shows their trust and long-term belief in our venue."
"This new agreement extends a very successful, long-term relationship," said Mark Wallner, NFL Executive Vice President of International. "It is very exciting to be making this announcement in the same week that we will reach one million fans for the International Series in London."
"Our four-year London initiative has been every bit as rewarding as we anticipated, certainly due in large part to the league's commitment to the UK and the world class experience that Wembley Stadium has provided the Jaguars, our fans and our partners," said Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. "Our interest in extending our agreement to play a home game each season in London is nothing new. So, we're very happy to make it official today. This is great news for the Jaguars and the stability of the team in Jacksonville, which has come to embrace London as our home away from home."
The Jaguars' home game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday will be the 13th game played in London. It's significant because for the first time ever, an NFL game will be streamed online around the world for free. It will only be televised in the Jaguars and Bills TV markets.
Because of the kickoff time, fans in Europe will be able to watch an afternoon game and fans in Asia and Australia to watch a game that kicks off at 12:30 a.m. instead of 4 a.m.
You can watch the game online at nflstream.Yahoo.com. People will be using the hashtag #WatchWithTheWorld.
Wembley Stadium hosted the first International Series game of 2015 on October 4 between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets before a sellout crowd of 83,986. Following the Buffalo-Jacksonville game on October 25, the season's final London game will be between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs on November 1.
Here's a look at the 12 previous International Series games played at Wembley Stadium:
|Date||Visiting Team||Score||Home Team||Score||Attendance|
|Oct. 28, 2007||New York Giants||13||Miami Dolphins||10||81,176|
|Oct. 26, 2008||San Diego Chargers||32||New Orleans Saints||37||83,226|
|Oct. 25, 2009||New England Patriots||35||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||84,254|
|Oct. 31, 2010||Denver Broncos||16||San Francisco 49ers||24||83,941|
|Oct. 23, 2011||Chicago Bears||24||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||18||76,981|
|Oct. 28, 2012||New England Patriots||45||St. Louis Rams||7||84,004|
|Sept. 29, 2013||Pittsburgh Steelers||27||Minnesota Vikings||34||83,518|
|Oct. 27, 2013||San Francisco 49ers||42||Jacksonville Jaguars||10||83,559|
|Sept. 28, 2014||Miami Dolphins||38||Oakland Raiders||14||83,436|
|Oct. 26, 2014||Detroit Lions||22||Atlanta Falcons||21||83,532|
|Nov. 9, 2014||Dallas Cowboys||31||Jacksonville Jaguars||17||83,603|
|Oct. 4, 2015||New York Jets||27||Miami Dolphins||14||83,986|
Since introducing International Series games in 2007, the NFL said it has achieved accelerated growth in the UK. Sunday viewership of NFL games has more than doubled and the Super Bowl audience has increased more than 75 percent.
Internal research shows the league has a UK fan base of more than 13 million.
Participation in amateur football in the UK has risen by approximately 15 percent per year since 2007, with the latest figures showing that 40,000 people age 16 or older play regularly.