The XFL is a league of innovation and opportunity. Those principles have always been at the forefront of what the organization looks to accomplish, from top to bottom. The XFL Combine was centered around exactly that, providing fans with an exclusive inside look into the event.
They showed up and showed out. 😤
The talent we saw this week was unbelievable, we can’t wait for what’s to come. 🙌
While all eight XFL teams have rosters that hold most of the same players from a season ago, the league is actively hunting for more prospects. Thousands of players have been featured through their showcases over the past month. The top performers were invited to the Combine itself, which was a three day affair this week.
To further the notion of fan engagement, the XFL live-streamed the final two days of the combine on their Youtube channel. It was hosted by ESPN announcer Sam Acho, and DC Defenders DB KJ Sails.
Let’s take a look at what the XFL Combine did right, and what they can improve upon in upcoming events similar to this one.
Entertaining Hosts & Interviews
The XFL did an excellent job of keeping the fans attentive to the action being streamed. Having two enthusiastic hosts helped, with Sam Acho and KJ Sails both doing a superb job. For Acho, this was no surprise, given his attention to detail as an XFL broadcaster this past season.
However, for KJ Sails, this was one of his first opportunities to pursue media with the XFL. His personality, wit, and passion impressed many. Sails is a natural in front of the camera, doing an outstanding job of interviewing and interacting with the many faces he did throughout the two days. One could compare his skills similarly to an entertainer such as Deestroying.
Speaking of interviews, the entire production focused on following around Acho and Sails, as they conducted multiple chats with XFL coaches, staff, and personnel. It was an eye-opening experience for fans, who were able to hear directly from masterminds such as Wade Phillips, Hines Ward, Reggie Barlow, and plenty others.
In addition, there were important XFL personnel who were interviewed, providing insight into everything that goes into the process of scouting potential players. David Dykeman, Sean Hayes, Bobby Monica, and Von Hutchins, for example, were all featured during the two day event. Even Chairwoman and Co-Owner Dany Garcia made an appearance, speaking with Acho during the first day.
There were plenty of player interviews as well, with Acho and Sails ensuring that the standouts were given a spotlight for at least a couple minutes at a time. As the two hosts scanned the field, they would pull aside an athlete from time to time, giving them an opportunity to share their background and story with the audience.
Bringing Fans Close To The Action
The XFL Combine was a non-traditional livestream. Those expecting it to be a production similar to that of NFL Network were likely a bit disappointed.
That being said, the XFL’s goal was never to emulate what the NFL does. The XFL typically does things a different way, looking to put their own spin on the way football is packaged to the fan.
The live chat on Youtube, while being a small piece of the puzzle, was quite entertaining. Fans were able to interact with multiple XFL staff and social media managers. Some XFL players even joined, such as Orlando Guardians TE Cody Latimer, and DC Defenders DT Dwayne Wallace.
Overall, it was a unique experience for fans, media, players, and personnel to all be in one place at the same time, enjoying the content being provided to us through the XFL Combine.
When it comes to seeing the results of the XFL Combine, that’s where the complaints might lie. Throughout the event, the cameras mainly focused on Acho, Sails, and the people they were interviewing. While the drills would be shown sporadically, there was not much consistency on that end, especially during the first day.
Even though things improved during the second go around, the livestream could have benefitted from focusing a bit more on the actual drills and activities taking place in Choctaw Stadium.
Now, towards the end of the second day, Acho and Sails gave fans an inside look at the weight room. This included demonstrations of the innovative technology the XFL is implementing, as they are partnered with multiple organizations on that end. This was an especially enjoyable segment, and one that should have taken precedence earlier on.
The XFL eventually released some results on their website, showcasing the top five performers for every category recorded during the two days. However, we still weren’t given a full list of participants, which is something that we all would greatly appreciate.
Generally speaking, the XFL Combine was an excellent way to continue to connect with their fans. Throughout the event, both hosts made sure to pay attention to the feedback, which added to the authenticity of the product.
While the execution wasn’t entirely perfect, this was the first time that the XFL attempted something like this. In fact, it’s the first time in modern spring football history where a combine was live-streamed.
The easy going manner of the broadcast felt similar to that of a documentary – or, for a more modern term, a “vlog”. This is by no means a bad thing, as the nature of Acho and Sails’ commentary felt personable, yet professional.
It will be exciting to see how the league looks to build upon these unique fan experiences moving forward. The possibilities are endless in the world of football, and the XFL continues to come through on their promise to be a fan-first organization.
What are your thoughts on the XFL Combine livestream? Which players/coaches did you enjoy watching? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!