The NFL’s Next Frontier: Conquering the Outback

The National Football League has been actively broadening its global footprint in recent years. But it is now embarking on a far more unprecedented undertaking: The NFL is setting its sights on staging regular-season games in Australia, underscoring its relentless pursuit of global expansion.

This revelation follows a report from 9News in Melbourne, which claimed that the NFL would likely host at least one regular-season contest Down Under in either 2025 or 2026. Peter O’Reilly, the league’s head of international affairs, has corroborated this timeline, recently affirming that “2025 is definitely a possibility.”

While the exact location remains uncertain, 9News has disclosed that preliminary discussions have already taken place between the NFL and the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), a 100,000-seat stadium operated by the Melbourne Cricket Club in Yarra Park, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Yet, the path to this ambitious goal is not without its challenges. The NFL acknowledges the complex issues of travel, time zones, and other hurdles. Peter O’Reilly, the league’s head of international affairs, candidly admits, “When you start to talk about Asia, Pacific, and Australia, you talk about distance and logistics and the football component of that. So those factors are real.”

Undeterred by these formidable logistical issues, the NFL is leaving no stone unturned in its never-ending pursuit of increasing its audience. The league is exploring innovative scheduling solutions, one of which involves scheduling the game on a Monday afternoon in Melbourne. This would translate to a prime-time kickoff on Sunday night in the United States, capitalizing on the 14-hour time difference between the regions.

Alternatively, the league could opt to host the contest during Week 1, staging it on a Friday or Saturday afternoon in Australia. This would allow the participating teams ample time to readjust upon their return stateside. Should the game transpire beyond Week 1, the NFL has acknowledged that granting a bye week to the teams competing would be a prudent measure to facilitate recovery from the grueling travel demands.

With all these considerations, one team has emerged as a frontrunner to serve as the home team for the inaugural game: the Los Angeles Rams. Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, has previously expressed his excitement for the prospect, stating, “I would love to see the team play in Australia.” This sentiment aligns with the Rams’ status as one of two franchises, alongside the Philadelphia Eagles, that hold international marketing rights in Australia through the NFL’s global marketing program.

For the NFL, the potential staging of a regular-season game in Australia represents an audacious, groundbreaking endeavor. With the league’s unwavering commitment to global expansion becoming more evident, its ambitions Down Under could soon become a reality