It’s a mixed bag for the USFL this weekend. There’s plenty to take in, and as always, factors to take into consideration.
USFL TV Ratings Analysis
Let’s begin with the first game, which was on USA Network. Michigan vs. Pittsburgh saw only 256,000 total viewers, which is the lowest number of the week. It’s on par with most of USA’s numbers so far in 2023, so it isn’t too surprising.
USA Network is simply the weakest channel across the board for the USFL. It never performs well, with every game seeing under 300k viewers this season. The channel isn’t massive by any means, averaging just 738,000 in primetime in 2022.
The most encouraging number is Saturday afternoon’s game, which notched 914,000. This is the highest rated game on FOX this USFL season, which goes to show the pull Birmingham has compared to other markets and cities. If FOX can consistently see numbers in that range, it’s an excellent sign for the league.
NBC’s Sunday afternoon slot is nearly identical week after week. It’s been in the 700-800k range all season long, and stays there at 757,000 in week five. Considering two non-hub teams were featured, this is solid.
Where FOX seems to struggle is on Sunday afternoons. Memphis vs. New Orleans garnered only 563,000 viewers, which is pretty low for an OTA network. This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2023, either. It seems like Sunday afternoon outings can’t find their footing, especially with the competition.
The NBA saw their game seven between Philadelphia and Boston average 8.4M, which overlapped with Sunday’s USFL game. This is a large number to compete with. Clearly, the NBA played a role in both the USFL’s and XFL’s TV ratings so far this year. Moving forward, the league needs to prioritize seeing a larger audience on FOX, especially for matchups that don’t feature the Stallions.
USFL TV Ratings From Week Five, 2022:
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Michigan Panthers (USA): 250,000 New Orleans Breakers vs. New Jersey Generals (FOX): 734,000 Birmingham Stallions vs. Philadelphia Stars (NBC): 905,000 Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Houston Gamblers (FOX): 692,000
Generally speaking, these numbers are once again pretty consistent for every network. FOX will occasionally see a dip, but USA and NBC are around the same.
At the end of the day, FOX Sports, NBC, and the USFL seem to be pleased with where they are at. The league is taking their time in building from the ground up. It’s a slow process, and something both entities seem to be patient with.
Additionally, the hub system plays a role. Teams who aren’t playing in their home markets aren’t being marketed to at all. Once each organization settles into their own cities, one would expect ratings to increase. Year three will be quite intriguing.
What are your thoughts on these USFL TV Ratings from week five? Which USFL games did you watch this weekend? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!