Arena Football Expands to China — India and Vietnam Could Be Next

A marketing game

In recent years, the novelty of indoor football has somewhat worn off; perhaps making it harder to gain mass popularity in the U.S. market.

But Niu said the company is looking for opportunities in merchandise, licensing and sponsorship. The goal would be to eventually grow the league and sell the assets of the company to new owners, or “engaged stockholders,” as the company put it.

The inaugural players in┬áCAFL were equally split in the draft between native Chinese and foreigners, according to the company. A large portion were American (400 of the 500 registered players). A strong majority from the Philadelphia Soul indoor team — no surprise. Among the other foreigners were players from Germany, Italy and Spain.

Worldwide Growth

Football’s international growth hasn’t been limited to indoor, however. The National Football League has been playing at Wembley Stadium in London for years (and signed a deal to keep playing there until 2020). This is more proof that American football is determined to throw the pig skin over international waters. In addition, ESPN International — a Disney (DIS) property — now airs in four languages. Broadcasting in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish to its 26 networks air in 61 countries and territories.

The online live stream of the draft showed the largest viewership was from the U.S. as well — in total more than 14,000 viewers logged on to the program, with 4,100 viewers from China over the show’s duration.

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Emily is a journalist and intern for the @DJNF with @thestreet. Formerly @TheTempleNews EIC, @USATODAY. @SABEW @WeAreSFJ