While the long-term goal for international expansion stated by Commissioner Roger Goodell is a permanent team in London, the NFL took a crucial short-term step in the UK on Thursday with the announcement of a new TV deal.
Sky Sports, which has broadcast live NFL games in the UK since 1995, has extended its deal by five years, adding the rights to air Monday Night Football. With the addition of Monday Night Football (played in the early hours of Tuesday morning for a UK audience), the broadcaster will give British NFL fans the chance to watch as many as 80 live games a year.
Sky Sports' coverage will also include all games from the NFL's International Series as teams travel to the UK for regular season match ups, which has seen sell out contests at Wembley since 2007.
Alistair Kirkwood, the Managing Director of NFL UK, said: "Sky Sports has been a fantastic partner for 20 years and we are delighted to have agreed a deal that will extend that partnership to a quarter of a century. Sky's coverage of the NFL and their support for the sport in this country has been an important element of our growth and we look forward to seeing their coverage expand and develop over the next five years."
The Dolphins-Raiders matchup at Wembley is the first of three games to be played in the UK in 2014. In Week 8, the Falcons and Lions will clash in a game that will be broadcast at 9:30 am ET, debuting a new game time that will showcase this international matchup. In Week 10, the Jaguars will host the Cowboys. In 2013, the Jaguars began a commitment to four years of games that will be played in London.