NFL Gives up on BBC Broadcasting Rights, Turns to New UK Outlet

Sports bettors in the UK will need to change the channel in order to catch up on the NFL action this season. The league is giving up its long-standing relationship with BBC Sport.

New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans battling on the NFL field. The Saints are one of several teams to play in London this year. (Image: Getty Images)

The NFL and ITV have signed a three-year agreement to allow the broadcaster to provide game coverage starting with the new season. Teams are now playing preseason games, with the regular season beginning on September 8.

The following day, ITV will offer NFL content in the UK and Ireland. The broadcaster will offer free-to-air coverage on TV, as well as ITV Hub, its online video-on-demand service.

NFL Finds New Home in the UK

ITV will offer hour-long weekly NFL broadcasts starting at 11:30 PM local time. The shows will provide information on the upcoming games, as well as highlights of other contests.

In addition to the game-day availability, ITV will also repeat the programs Saturday mornings. The shows will also be accessible at all times on ITV Hub.

In Scotland, football fans and sports bettors can find the programming on STV. In Ireland, Virgin Media will provide the access. In addition to ITV Hub, users of ITV Hub+, STV Player, and VM Player will be able to view the content online.

When you look at the development of the NFL in the UK in recent years – with momentum behind fan growth, more London games, successful British players in the NFL, the launch of an Academy and a charitable foundation – this announcement is another sign of our ambition to grow and develop the sport in the UK,” said NFL UK Managing Director Henry Hodgson.

The NFL has spent years trying to grow its fan base in Europe (as well as Latin America). Finally, its efforts are beginning to pay off, and it now schedules more games in London.

Where there was previously just one, there are now three games. This year, the Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints on October 2. In addition, the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers will play on October 9. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosts both games.

In addition, on October 30, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Denver Broncos meet across the pond. Wembley Stadium will host the two teams.

New Channel, New Talent

The NFL is getting a new channel and ITV is getting new talent. Former Sky Sports presenter Laura Woods is now part of the ITV lineup and will host the broadcaster’s NFL coverage. Joining her will be Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell, who previously covered the NFL for BBC Sport.

Umenyiora is a former NFL defensive end, as well as one of only five British players to have played in the league. He spent 10 years with the New York Giants and one year with the Atlanta Falcons. While with the Giants, he won two Super Bowl rings.

Bell is also a former NFL player and shared the turf with Umenyiora for a short time. Umenyiora was with the Giants from 2003 to 2012, and Bell played for the team from 2006-2007.

After leaving the league in 2007, the cornerback became a partner in a private wealth management firm. He then became part of BBC Sport’s NFL coverage as well.

This is the second big announcement for ITV this week. It took away coverage of Spain’s soccer league LaLiga from BBC in another three-year deal six days ago.

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