It’s a mixed bag for the XFL this week. There’s some positives and negatives to take from the TV ratings. Let’s take a look at a couple of factors that played into these numbers:
– The XFL is going head-to-head with the USFL. Spring football isn’t the most popular community, so it’s safe to assume that both leagues are hurting each other, especially on cable.
– ESPN+ streaming numbers are not included. We have no idea what those numbers look like, but those would likely add some depth to these final tallies.
TV Ratings Analysis
Across the board, these numbers are very similar to what we saw in week nine. The one outing on ABC (an OTA network) had over 800k viewers. Clearly, the league can draw larger audiences when featured on flagship channels such as ABC.
ESPN continues to be a bit of a disappointment. Only 403,000 tuned into Arlington vs. Houston. That’s only 25,000 more than the night game on ESPN2. Now, this game had absolutely zero meaning to the playoff race, so that could be a reason why the viewership was lower than expected.
St. Louis clearly carries ESPN, as those matchups always do better when the Battlehawks are involved. As season two approaches, the XFL needs to figure out a way to improve the marketing campaigns surrounding ESPN. A cable channel as powerful as ESPN shouldn’t be posting such underwhelming stats. Generally speaking, ESPN2 and FX have been more stable, especially when you compare them to their 2022 averages.
Stacking Up Vs. USFL
This weekend, the XFL outperformed the USFL in total ratings. The numbers are almost identical to week nine for the XFL, while the USFL dropped quite drastically from their season opener.
Games that are on OTA networks (ABC, NBC, FOX) are all performing respectively well. Each league has similar numbers in that category.
For the second week in a row, the #XFL2023 and #USFL went head-to-head. Total viewership:
Cable is where the XFL has the clear advantage. Channels such as ESPN and ESPN2 dominated the cable airwaves this weekend, as the USFL didn’t come close. Now, one has to take into account all of the factors that play into this. ESPN should always out-do a channel such as USA Network. ESPN is the king of sports, while USA Network is…USA Network.
That being said, it was a victorious week on cable for the XFL. A great example is the 7pm ET timeslot on Sunday night. ESPN2’s outing scored 378,000; while the USFL’s matchup on FS1 at the same time only knotted 211,000.
However, that makes up for a combined 589,000 on cable, across two games. Is that enough to support both leagues? Time will tell.
As long as ownership has been satisfied with TV ratings so far, I see no reason as to why they would be disappointed about week ten. There’s plenty of room for improvement, especially on a channel such as ESPN.
However, ESPN2 and FX exceeded expectations for the most part, and the XFL weathered the March Madness and Masters storm, recovering well after the fact.