The NFL comes to London this week to play its now annual International Series game. It will be the sixth time that the NFL has played a game in London adding to the one it played in Mexico in 2005. The NFL has already announced that it will play two games in London in 2013. Popularity for the NFL overseas and in the UK in particular is not in question it seems, yet at further inspection it would seem that the NFL and sports giant Nike are missing a trick when it comes to merchandise.
For fans of the NFL based in Europe, buying merchandise of their favourite team can be difficult and due to the mostly extortionate shipping costs, expensive.
So when the NFL announced that Nike were going to make the merchandise for all 32 NFL teams fans in Europe probably though that it would be easier to purchase the gear they wanted, either from a Nike store on a high street or directly from Nike via their website. It would appear, so far at least that this is not necessarily the case.
As I mentioned earlier the NFL comes to London this week and to celebrate Nike Town on Oxford Street in London’s main shopping district is selling some NFL related merchandise. All 32 teams are represented, although many fans have been left disappointed as it seems that only 5 or 6 teams have been represented with merchandise other than the basic £70 game jersey. Even Nike’s website has very little on it. Why buy the rights to NFL merchandising if you are not going to get the maximum return possible?
NFL fans in and around the London area were excited by the prospect of something as simple as walking into a shop and being able to purchase a t-shirt, hoodie or jacket of their favourite NFL team without having to pay high shipping or import costs, probably spending the extra saving on another item.
For the record, the two visiting teams, the Rams and Patriots have the most merchandise available as do a few other teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Giants, Cowboys and Bears. Fans of these 7 teams will be happy, fans of the 25 other teams not so much.
The NFL and Nike are both multi million pound organisations and they probably don’t need to be told how to operate, but they are simply both missing a trick whilst robbing fans of what they want. Between these two companies they could easily afford and manage to open an ‘NFL Store’ in capital cities all over Europe, starting in London. NFL fans don’t just want to buy this stuff once or twice a year when the NFL comes to town they (me included) are fans all year round and would want to purchase new t-shirts and other merchandise all year round. I simply don’t see the reasons why both Nike, who have at least in some way started the ball rolling and the NFL don’t take advantage of its fan base around Europe.
NFL fans in the UK and Europe are hoping it is a case of watch this space.