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Volume 27 No. 10
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XFL Games See Relatively Strong Viewership On Opening Weekend

The XFL averaged 3.1 million viewers in Week 1 for four games across Fox, ABC and ESPN. The top game was Fox’ early Sunday afternoon telecast of Tampa Bay Vipers-N.Y. Guardians, which averaged 3.39 million viewers. Among local markets, St. Louis drew the top figure for any game, averaging a 7.4 locally for ESPN’s St. Louis BattleHawks-Dallas Renegades game in the late Sunday afternoon window. Despite not having a local team, K.C. seemed to have a continued interest in more football even after the Super Bowl win. The Missouri market ranked in the top five for each of the four telecasts over the weekend. Fox Sports Exec VP and Head of Strategy & Analytics Mike Mulvihill also noted that the average XFL viewers watched for 61 minutes in Week 1, which is just short of college football in ’19 (69 minutes/game) and the NFL in ’19 (85 minutes/game). Looking at figures for the Alliance of American Football last year, only the lone debut telecast came close to what the XFL drew in Week 1, with regionalized coverage on a Saturday night on CBS averaging 3.3 million viewers. The AAF would only top 1 million viewers once more over eight weeks of coverage, and that was as the lead-in for NBA All-Star Saturday Night on TNT (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

XFL WEEK 1 VIEWERSHIP
DATE
NETWORK
MATCHUP
START (ET)
VIEWERS (000)
2/8/20
ABC
Dragons-Defenders
2:00pm
3,302
2/8/20
Fox
Wildcats-Roughnecks
5:09pm
3,290
2/9/20
Fox
Vipers-Guardians
2:07pm
3,385
2/9/20
ESPN
BattleHawks-Renegades
5:00pm
2,495
Download the
Chart

TAKE NOTES, NFL: In Michigan, Benjamin Raven wrote the XFL's first weekend was a "hit thanks in large part to the fresh presentation of the national TV broadcast." Analysts were "allowed access to players on the sidelines moments removed from on-field action." Fans watching at home also were "granted the rare opportunity to hear coaches not only talk to their players on the field, but as plays were called in real-time." The XFL's product was a "breath of fresh air," and while it "might take some time for NFL coaches to let up, the broadcast was such a hit that at least a little early influence should bleed over" (MLIVE.com, 2/11).