The NFL has often been accused of being bit of a bully in certain situations, they have also been described as being the No Fun League, well in the case of the NFL’s smaller brother, NFL UK, they can be accused of being both.
The NFL have been sending teams over the pond to London to play a regular season game since 2007, in 2013 they played two games here and in 2014 they will play three, so it seems that the NFL is keen to expand its product away from the States, which is what makes the recent action of NFL UK all the more puzzling.
The Hippodrome Casino, in the heart of London’s West End and the venue for ‘NFL in London’ an event run with the help of comedian Wade McElwain, where every Sunday during the NFL season, every NFL game is shown on its own TV somewhere in the first floor bar area. What this means is fans of any and all teams can come and see their team play and are not limited to one, or maybe two games at a time, something which has been the norm for bars showing NFL games for many years. That said finding a bar, pub, restaurant or casino in the UK that are willing to show the NFL in any form is a feat in itself.
How is it possible for the Hippodrome or any other venue outside of North America to show multiple games when only one satellite channel is broadcasting them? Welcome to the wonderful invention that is NFL Game Pass, a paid service that allows fans the access to watch any live game (except the one being shown on Sky Sports) via any internet device.
However, NFL UK has deemed that game pass is for home use only and has forced the Hippodrome to cease using the service to broadcast games in their Casino. The NFL UK has also refused to have any discussions with the Hippodrome on the matter until they had stopped using the game pass service. Last Sunday, the 1st of December the Hippodrome did just that ,but they are still waiting for a response and ultimately a solution.
Whilst the Hippodrome wait for a response from the NFL UK who would only say that they are having internal discussions, presumably with the NFL, Wade said ;
“Fans are encouraged to show support by bringing their own devices and Gamepasses. The Hippodrome respects an amicable future with the NFL UK, and wants to show the press how far the fans are willing to go in support of their efforts.”
The NFL must have considered the option that bar owners would buy a subscription or two and then proceed to show games in their bar. The NFL obviously did not consider that they might actually be able to make money by selling a subscription package to bars in the same way that Sky TV does in the UK, if they had such a thing would be in place.
The obvious answer it seems is to license it for public use, while also keeping its current subscription packages for any individual to use at home, or perhaps come up with an alternative, such as NFL Sunday Ticket which game pass is really an internet version of, and allow public places like the Hippodrome to buy a licence and show a wide range of NFL games on a Sunday.
NFL in London is currently campaigning for a solution and are encouraging fans to tweet or call NFL UK to come up with a solution.
NFL in London’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/NFL-in-London/202026769851069) has the following message;