NFL owners Tuesday approved a resolution to continue playing regular-season games in the United Kingdom through the 2016 season.
The vote, which came during the NFL Fall Meeting in Houston, authorizes the league to schedule regular-season games in the U.K. in each of the next five years. The new resolution:
» Allows teams to volunteer to play at least one regular-season game per year as a home team in the U.K. for up to five years.
» Enables the league to determine the appropriate number of U.K. games per season, based on the popularity of the sport in the market and the number of teams that volunteer to play as a home team.
"The response to NFL games being played in the U.K. continues to be exceptional," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Because of the outstanding support of our British fans, we are confident that hosting additional games in the U.K. will be well received and support our goal of bringing football to more fans in the U.K. and beyond."
The international series of regular-season games to date has contributed to increased NFL fan interest in the U.K., with a current fan base of 11 million, including more than 2 million avid fans, a 32 percent increase in the past two years.
Television ratings have also shown tremendous growth -- with Sunday viewership of NFL games up 91 percent and the Super Bowl audience increased 74 percent since 2006 -- while the league has developed new and stronger business partnerships.
"When the initial resolution was approved in 2006, the thinking at the time was that we would have two new teams every year," NFL Vice President of International Chris Parsons said. "As the series evolved, we felt as though having a team return to the U.K. on a regular basis would certainly increase the fan base for that particular team, which in turn would drive fan growth for the entire league. We think there is a tremendous benefit for a team to return to the U.K. on an annual basis."
NFL owners approved a resolution in 2006 to present up to two international regular-season games per season from 2007-2011.
This year's game on Oct. 23 between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears will be the fifth NFL regular-season game played at London's Wembley Stadium and is the final one as part of the initial resolution.