American Football Around the World

Languages Help NFL Penetrate International Markets & Broaden Reach

American Football Around the WorldOn February 5th, 2017, the New England Patriots took on the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL Super Bowl 51 that turned out to be one of the best Super Bowls ever played. The Falcons had moved on to the finals due to their explosive offense and strong performance of their quarterback Ryan, and dominated the first half of the game. But New England’s Brady and team managed to overcome a 25 point deficit in the second half scoring 31 unanswered points to win the game in overtime completing the most thrilling and biggest comeback ever seen in Super Bowl history!

Although New England fans are still basking in euphoria, this perhaps is stale news to you. What you may not know however is that the game was broadcast to 225 countries around the globe to cater to the needs of U.S. expats and to international viewers that tune in to see the halftime show and the extravagant commercial productions. The game was even broadcast to the international space station, taking not only an international meaning, but a galactic one!

Language & Time Zone Challenges

Many challenges continue to persist restricting the game from being enjoyed worldwide. Chiefly among them are the differing time zones around the world and the need for experienced international announcers in different languages. Meeting local language needs will facilitate drawing worldwide audiences, but requires professional broadcasters that understand the dense rules of the game, different teams’ playbooks, and have a thorough familiarity with the players. The NFL can learn a lesson or two from FIFA, the football (soccer) international federation association, who has dealt with these issues and found ways to overcome them.

NFL is Making Strides

The last FIFA world cup in 2014 reached 3.2 Billion people and the final game was watched by more than a billion people. The games are broadcast in virtually every language and every country. The NFL has a lot of localization work ahead of it to catch up with FIFA, but strides are in the making. Super Bowl 51 was broadcast in many languages including Mandarin Chinese, French (Canada), German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Japanese, Korean and Danish. See the game’s final touchdown commentary in each of these languages to get a feel for the importance of how languages can help the NFL penetrate international markets to broaden their audience base and reach.

I’ve been a FIFA soccer fan since childhood. I can unequivocally say however that for me, nothing matches the thrill and excitement of watching American Football. The entire world can learn to thoroughly enjoy NFL games and not just Super Bowl halftime shows and commercials when given a sensible chance!


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