NFL returns to BBC for 2015/16 season

The NFL have agreed a new two-year rights deal with the BBC to guarantee live free-to-air coverage of all three International Series games at Wembley, as well as the world-famous showpiece event, the Super Bowl.

The new deal also includes a weekly highlights show on BBC Two and online, The Road To The Super Bowl, which will run from the final Wembley game at the start of November until the climax of the season in February.

This season, the first Wembley clash, between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins on October 4, will be broadcast live on BBC Two.

The Jacksonville Jaguars against the Buffalo Bills on October 25 will also be live on BBC Two, while the Detroit Lions against the Kansas City Chiefs a week later will be shown live on BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website, with highlights later in the evening on BBC Two.

The BBC Sport website and app will also bring the best on-demand video clips throughout each season.

The NFL will celebrate its 50th Super Bowl next year, an event as famous for its legendary half-time entertainment as for the action on the field.

Super Bowl 50 takes place in San Francisco on February 7, 2016 and will be live on BBC TV, Radio and Online.

The deal, which sees the BBC win back the rights it lost to Channel 4 in 2013, ensures the NFL will continue to receive regular free-to-air coverage in light of Sky Sports’ recent acquisitions of Sunday and Monday night games, which were previously broadcast by Channel 4 and British Eurosport respectively.

Excluding the Wembley fixtures and the Super Bowl, Sky Sports now owns the rights to all televised NFL matches throughout the season, including exclusive live coverage of the end-of-season Playoffs.

After signing a two-year deal to bring the Super Bowl back to its screens in 2013, Channel 4, which first brought American football coverage to UK TV screens in 1980s, opted out of renewing its deal to keep the rights beyond 2015, the news of which was first broken by the broadcaster’s NFL presenter Vernon Kay in July.

The return of NFL to the BBC, who previously covered the sport between 2008 and 2013, is a rare sports rights win for the corporation, which in recent months has lost half of its Six Nations rugby rights to ITV, live Open Championship golf to Sky and control of the destiny of future Olympics coverage to Discovery.

Commenting on the deal, Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said: “NFL has a growing fan base in the UK and I’m delighted that the BBC can bring it free-to-air for our audience.

“We look forward to delivering all the best action and drama of American Football for the next two years on BBC TV, Radio and Online at the BBC Sport website.”

Alistair Kirkwood, Managing Director of NFLUK, says: “We are very pleased and excited to be back on the BBC.

“As we look to expand our reach and create new fans, the BBC’s free-to-air and digital platforms offer us a fantastic opportunity for further growth of our sport.

“The range of programming will offer an entry point for new fans as well as providing great content for existing NFL fans.”