On Monday night, the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans squared off at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The primetime match-up, which was announced back in February, marked the first time a regular-season NFL game had been played in Mexico since 2005. The return of the NFL to Mexico, according to the league, is owed to not only a recent surge in interest and the success the league has found in London, where 17 games have been played since 2007; extensive renovations to Azteca Stadium also seem to have helped. Ahead of the game, Mark Waller, who heads the NFL’s international division, expressed optimism about turning Mexico City into a regular international destination for American pro football. "My goal would be similar to the U.K., where we're able to go back at least once a year and create our piece of the Mexico City sporting calendar.”
Long before the NFL began to suffer a staggering drop in ratings, the league had already set its sights on America’s southern neighbor. This strategy makes sense. According to Nielsen, NFL viewership among Hispanic audiences has jumped by 28 percent in the past five years and Mexico City, with 20 million people in its metropolitan area, is thought to have the seventh-largest football-fan base in North America.