This weekend, fans of the USFL were treated to playoff football for the second straight year. The TV ratings have officially arrived, so let’s take a look at how the league fared during the postseason.
Saturday night’s outing between the Pittsburgh Maulers and Michigan Panthers was an overtime thriller. For the first time in spring football history, a nationally televised playoff matchup went into overtime.
The game aired on NBC, who will also be hosting the Championship game. A season ago, Birmingham vs. New Orleans saw 998,000 viewers on NBC. Across the board, the number stayed quite consistent, with only a 4.1% drop. In addition, the matchup was quite long, as the broadcast didn’t end until close to midnight.
957,000 for NBC is by no means a poor rating. In fact, it’s the highest number of the 2023 season, not counting the 2 million who tuned into a week four game between Michigan and Memphis. NBC typically saw 700-900k throughout the entire season.
Birmingham vs. New Orleans on FOX scored 852,000, as the Stallions played in front of a packed and energetic crowd in Protective Stadium. While this outing saw a 10.9% drop in viewership from last year’s playoff matchup on FOX, it makes sense.
All year long, FOX has been in the 500-800k range, only breaking 900k twice. In addition, Sunday’s game was a blowout, with Birmingham holding a 33 point lead early in the third quarter. Had it been a shootout similar to Saturday night’s affair, more would have stayed tuned in.
Overall, both numbers are respectable, with room for growth heading into season three. The good news is that there is a core audience of around 700-900k for important games on OTA networks, which positions the USFL in a similar place with other professional leagues (MLS, NHL for example).
USFL vs. XFL
For comparison’s sake, here’s a look at what the XFL averaged in the playoffs during their 2023 season:
Some factors need to be taken into consideration. The XFL was dealing with heavier competition this week (including the USFL). Also, ESPN is a cable channel, as opposed to over-the-air (i.e. FOX, NBC).
With that in mind, the USFL absolutely dominated the playoff TV ratings. The XFL’s premier North matchup on Sunday afternoon didn’t even hit 500k on ESPN – which is a popular sports destination for the entire country. Clearly, the USFL’s emphasis on their OTA networks has proven to be quite the asset for the league.
The USFL Championship is primed for a large audience. The Pittsburgh Maulers will face off against the Birmingham Stallions on Saturday, July 1st at 8pm ET.
In addition, the USFL Championship tickets are selling fast. With such an electric atmosphere at the Hall Of Fame in Canton a season ago, one can expect it to be even better in 2023.
What are your thoughts on the USFL TV ratings from the postseason? Which games did you watch this weekend? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!