(Reuters) – Ticket demand for the NFL’s five international games this season has jumped 55% compared to 2018 thanks to the American football league’s efforts to grow its global fan base, ticket retailer StubHub said on Thursday.
Four games will be played in London and one in Mexico in 2019 with the Chicago Bears-Oakland Raiders matchup at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium being the most in-demand game.
“When the NFL first started the international series there were a lot of questions around whether there would be demand for American football in Europe, in Asia, in Mexico and elsewhere,” Akshay Khanna, general manager of NFL for StubHub, told Reuters.
“It was viewed as such a domestic sport but the NFL has done a phenomenal job of growing its fan base.”
Ticket sales to international buyers looking to catch a game while they are in the United States are up 19% compared to last season, with most of the demand coming from fans in Canada, Mexico, Australia, the UK and Germany.
Overall, the most in-demand game of the season is also the first one on the schedule, as the Bears host NFC rivals the Green Bay on Sept. 5 to kick off the NFL’s 100th season.
Tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys are, for the fifth year running, the most sought after while the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots continue to see rising demand for tickets.
“Historic franchises are continuing to draw fans in 2019,” Khanna said.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherford)