NFL London Games record highest-ever average attendance—is a British franchise closer?

To some, the prospect of London permanently hosting an NFL franchise is almost a certainty. To others, the suggestion American football might find a new home in the British capital remains little more than a dream.

While the pros and cons of a London-based franchise have been and will continue to be discussed at length, what can't be debated is the sport's ever-growing popularity across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to data from Wembley Stadium and compiled by Statista, the last three-game London series recorded the highest average attendance of any NFL games in the British capital. Wembley saw an average of 85,031 fans stream through the turnstiles for the three games it hosted this month, compared to 84,508 and 84,123 in 2017 and 2016 respectively when the 90,000-capacity venue hosted two games.

20181029_nfl_wembley_newsweek_720
This year's NFL games at Wembley recorded the highest average attendance since the inception of the International Series in 2007. Statista

In 2014 and 2015, the last time three NFL games were staged at Wembley until this year, the averages stood at 83,524 and 83,877 respectively.

Some 85,870 fans witnessed the the Philadelphia Eagles' 24-18 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the biggest attendance of any NFL games staged outside the U.S.

By comparison, 81,176 spectators attended the New York Giants' win over the Miami Dolphins on October 28, 2007 when Wembley hosted the first NFL regular season game held outside North America.

The NFL's popularity in London is corroborated by the figures recorded for the three games hosted at Twickenham over the last two seasons. The average attendance for an NFL game at the home of English rugby is 74,031 on a capacity of 75,000—the stadium sits 82,000 fans but the capacity is reduced for NFL games.

GettyImages-1060566378
A general view inside the stadium during the NFL International Series match between Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on October 28 in London, England. Alex Pantling/Getty Images

According to the NFL, a record 47,000 fans bought a ticket to attend all three London games this season. With tickets priced at between $63 and $637 and a total attendance of just over 255,000, gate receipts are estimated to have been around $32 million.

The figures illustrate why London is such a lucrative stop for the NFL and underline the strength of demand for football in the British capital. Next year, London will stage four games, two at Wembley and two at Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium, which was scheduled to host its first game this season before severe delays in the completion of construction forced it to be moved to Wembley.

While Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan withdrew his bid to purchase England's national stadium, the NFL is expected to continue to grow its presence across the pond.

"When we first came to the UK in 2007 it was a great day but it didn't feel completely like the real thing," NFL executive Mark Waller was quoted as saying by The Guardian earlier this month. "Now London games have gone from being a novelty to an authentic part of the NFL calendar."