XFL Looks To Learn From AAF Missteps Ahead Of First Season
The same potential audience that may be interested in the XFL "just watched another start-up league go down in flames" in the AAF, which makes Vince McMahon's league's sell "that much harder," according to Dan Greene of SI. XFL Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck said the AAF folding in April is a "bit of a double-edged sword." Greene notes on the plus side, more players and coaches are "available and looking for work." But Luck said on the other hand, "It casts a little bit of a pall over spring football. It's number whatever in the litany of failed spring leagues." Luck added, "It gives us a chance to explain why we're gonna be different." Greene notes the first iteration of the XFL "represented the most ballyhooed pro sports league launch the U.S. has ever seen, yet it petered into oblivion." Luck said, "We want everybody to remember: We flopped the first time around. We gotta do it different" (SI.com, 5/6).
NETWORKING SKILLS: In L.A., Arash Markazi writes it "makes sense to compare the start of the XFL next year to the ill-fated" AAF, but it is "hard to see the league folding after it announced its TV deal" with ESPN and Fox. Every XFL game will be "nationally televised" starting next February. Markazi: "Say what you will about the league, but it's probably going to be easier to watch an XFL game than a Dodgers game next year in L.A." (L.A. TIMES, 5/7). In Chattanooga, Jay Greeson wrote the "winning piece of the XFL's TV deal" is that it will be on ESPN. That is "so huge," just "ask NASCAR." Gleeson: "Take less money and get on the four-letter network -- as well as ABC occasionally -- means the most powerful platform in sports will be talking about and covering your sport" (TIMESFREEPRESS.com, 5/6). ESPN's Mike Ryan Ruiz said Fox and ESPN are "great media partners for the XFL to have," whereas the AAF had CBSSN, which "didn't have great reach." Ruiz added the AAF did have network television on CBS but "no real cable network to promote it" ("The Dan Le Batard Show," ESPN Radio, 5/6).
LEARN FROM OTHERS' MISTAKES: AD AGE's Anthony Crupi wrote the success of the XFL will "depend almost entirely on the quality of football it can muster up," though its "big-reach schedule offers the league a greater pool of potential converts than the AAF could expect from its own distribution scheme" (ADAGE.com, 5/6). CBS Sports' Boomer Esiason said the XFL's TV deal will "help sustain some sponsorships and hopefully sustain a league where the guys don't have to worry about whether or not the league is going to fold." Esiason: "That was part of the problem with the AAF, they said they had these TV deals. You were paying to be on TV, TV wasn't paying you to be on TV" ("Boomer and Gio," CBS Sports Radio, 5/6).